Lost Voices

Poet Brian Patten explores the life and work of lesser-known or forgotten poets.

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
0101Harry Fainlight: Soul On Fire2009032220090328
20100417 (R4)

Harry Fainlight was a young man of rare promise when a trip to America to meet the Beat poets in the early 1960s changed his life forever.

Brian discovers a life filled with distress, anxiety, affection and the most beautifully lyrical poetry.

A meeting with the 1960s Beat poets changed young poet Harry Fainlight's life forever.

0102Rosemary Tonks: The Poet Who Vanished *2009032920090404

Rosemary Tonks published two slim volumes of poetry and a clutch of novels and then, towards the end of the 1970s, disappeared from public life.

Brian explores the operatic drama of her work, which was hugely influenced by Rimbaud and Baudelaire, and shares his enthusiasm with other contemporary poets.

Rosemary Tonks published two slim volumes of poetry before disappearing from public life.

0103Dom Moraes: The Double Exile * *2009040520090411

Born in India, educated at Oxford, admirer of Auden and Spender and a youthful resident of low Soho dives, the life of the beautiful Dom Moraes was in itself poetical.

Brian finds in Moraes' work the melancholy of a man who never quite belonged either in India or England.

Dom Moraes' poetry betrayed the melancholy of a man who never quite belonged.

0104 LASTW H Davies2009041220090418

travelled the world from his native Wales, sleeping rough and jumping trains.

His work has a simplicity which is still revered in the form of his well-known lines: 'What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare?'

But few people know that it was Davies who wrote them.

Brian remembers a poet whose work helped set him on his own way as a writer.

WH Davies' work has a simplicity that is still revered.

0201Asj Tessimond20100411

ASJ - Arthur Seymour John - Tessimond - known to his friends as Tessy - died less than fifty years ago but the details of his life are now almost entirely consigned to oblivion.

But his poetry lives on, largely in anthologies or as requests on Poetry Please, and Brian Patten was determined to find out as much as he could for Radio 4 about the man who wrote some beautiful poetry about love.

And cats.

And, oddly, Luton.

For a man who never found the love he dreamed of, he was conspicuously tenacious in looking for it - but, as a Tessimond researcher explains in Lost Voices this afternoon, he had a fatal tendency to seek love from unsuitable women - chorus girls and nightclub hostesses.

Nevertheless, Tessimond is clearly a man who inspired affection and by the end of this afternoon's programme Brian himself has developed a soft spot for Tessy." The poems are read by Nigel Anthony.

Written and presented by Brian Patten.

Produced by Christine Hall."

0202Molly Holden2010041820100424

From her early youth to her death in 1981, Molly Holden was an acute, unsentimental but lyrical poet of the natural world.

She was influenced by Hardy and Edward Thomas but her poetry was distinctively her own; her inspiration was topography, archaeology, the ties of the present world with the past.

Molly delighted in the outdoors and it was a huge blow when Multiple Sclerosis first slowed her down, then put her in a wheelchair.

She continued to write about the world she could see from her window but increasingly the cruel reality of her situation became evident in her poetry.

Written and presented by Brian Patten.

The readers are Annette Badland and Nigel Anthony.

Produced in Bristol by Christine Hall.

Brian Patten introduces the work of Molly Holden, poet of the natural world.

0203Thomas Blackburn2010042520100501

Novelist Julia Blackburn joins Brian Patten to talk about the life and work of her father, Thomas, whose powerful and remarkable poetry reflects the lifelong struggles he had with his demons. Thomas's father handed on to his son a hideous sense of shame which was in due course compounded by alcoholism and an addiction to prescription drugs. Yet Thomas Blackburn's rich and unflinching poetry is still well worth reading, and at the end of his life he was able to make peace with the past and die in contentment.

The reader is Patrick Romer.

The programme is written and presented by Brian Patten, and produced by Christine Hall.

0203Thomas Blackburn2010042520100501

Novelist Julia Blackburn joins Brian Patten to talk about the life and work of her father, Thomas, whose powerful and remarkable poetry reflects the lifelong struggles he had with his demons.

Thomas's father handed on to his son a hideous sense of shame which was in due course compounded by alcoholism and an addiction to prescription drugs.

Yet Thomas Blackburn's rich and unflinching poetry is still well worth reading, and at the end of his life he was able to make peace with the past and die in contentment.

The reader is Patrick Romer.

The programme is written and presented by Brian Patten, and produced by Christine Hall.

Poet Thomas Blackburn wrote to exorcise his personal demons.

Brian Patten tells his story.

0204 LASTPadraic Fiacc2010050220100508

was born in Belfast in the mid-1920s and migrated with his family to New York in search of a less violent society - unfortunately they found themselves in the notorious Hell's Kitchen area where social problems were rife and gang warfare raged.

Coming back to Belfast later in his life, Fiacc recognised many of these social problems and was able to write about them with an outsider's eye.

His straightforward language and spare, stark style marked him out from the more lyrical poets writing in the great Irish tradition, and for decades he has been cold-shouldered by the literary establishment.

Brian Patten tells the story, illustrated with some of Fiacc's most poignant and sometimes disturbing poems.

The reader is Jonjo O'Neill.

Produced by Christine Hall.

Brian Patten examines the work of 'The Voice of the Troubles', poet Padraic Fiacc.

0301Anne Ridler2011041020110416

In the first of a new series, Brian Patten explores the life and poetry of Anne Ridler, whose quiet and lucid observations of 20th century life are often overlooked.

Born into a literary family, Anne's early employment with the publisher Faber meant that she was working to T.S.

Eliot.

Her work, however, is very much in her own distinctive voice: quiet, contemplative, but acute in its observation.

Juliet Stevenson reads a selection of Anne Ridler's poems on themes of the natural world, relationships, the rhythms of human life.

Producer Christine Hall.

Brian Patten explores the life and poetry of Anne Ridler.

Reader Juliet Stevenson.

0302Herbert Read2011041720110423

Brian Patten rediscovers the moving First World War poetry of Herbert Read.

Herbert Read was a man of many contradictions.

Though a dedicated socialist and a committed anarchist, he was knighted by Winston Churchill; he was a pacifist but was twice decorated for bravery in the First World War; he was a strong advocate for Modernism in British art but could not accept the concept of Post Modernism.

His towering presence in the post-war art world (he co-founded the Institute of Contemporary Arts) almost totally eclipsed his abilities as a poet, and yet his son - the writer Piers Paul Read - believes he always thought of himself as a poet.

Brian Patten, who met Herbert Read towards the end of his life, revisits his First World War poetry and finds an impressively mature voice; cool in tone but full of humanitarian feeling towards the men - he characterised them as "children" - involved on both sides.

Piers Paul Read contributes to the programme and the poems are read by Samuel West.

Producer Christine Hall.

0303Patricia Beer2011042420110430

Brian Patten highlights the work of Patricia Beer, which he feels deserves a new evaluation.

Her strong, clear poetic voice grew out of a life menaced by insecurity and anger.

Her friend, the poet Elaine Feinstein, and her niece, the novelist Patricia Duncker, consider the woman and the poetry.

Producer Christine Hall.

0304 LASTRobert Service2011050120110507

As a young man, Brian Patten was fascinated by the life and work of Robert Service, who in the early years of the 20th century left a banking job in Glasgow for the excitement of the goldrush in the Yukon.

He almost immediately found himself working in a bank again, but he was now in a romantic wilderness.

In the bars of Whitehorse he heard wonderful stories of life in the Gold Rush which he transmuted into Kipling-inspired verse, and he was soon the best-paid poet in the western world.

Yet despite his huge popularity, he remained the self-described "man who wouldn't fit in." Now, though honoured in Canada, his work is almost forgotten.

The poems are read by James Cosmo.

Producer Christine Hall.

Brian Patten explains why the work of Robert Service deserves to be more widely remembered