Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Monday 25 May 2009

Just at the moment, the BBC is running a poetry season, across seemingly all of its outlets, with documentaries, readings and participatory events all round, and some striking promotional trailers on TV, where TV faces you might not necessarily associate with poetry respond to some everyday situation with a poem. Unfortunately, the best of these don't appear in the BBC's own Youtube videos, so you'll have to take my word for it that somehow it works when the presenter in the video below, out on a shopping trip and asked what she'd like for her birthday, launches into this, or this comedian, asked for directions, gives the first verse of this.

One thing I have been struck by is that poets don't always seem to be the best readers of their own work. Over the last couple of weeks of programmes, I've noticed a tendency to adopt an oddly incantatory "poetry voice" which favours a sing-song rhythm that seems to swamp the sense of the words (even when the poet has perfect diction, which - naming no names - isn't often the case). I much prefer readings by people trained to communicate what they've understood from a poem:

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