Radio Waves: Poems Celebrating the Wireless
Edited by SeŠn Street
Includes poems by Eleanor Farjeon, W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood, Philip Larkin, George Szirtes, Martyn Crucefix and Duncan Forbes.
In 1927 a writer in the Radio Times declared it unsurprising that poets should write about radio, ‘for the new magic, which pours the music of the concert room into the stillness of the cottage and brings the song of nightingales into the heart of Town, is of the very stuff of poetry.’
That early fascination with the power of the invisible waves that transmit thoughts around the globe persists, and continues to draw poems from writers who find that the kinship of both forms as purveyors of ‘pictures in the mind’ remains a unique one in the constantly evolving development of electronic media.
In 1998, poet and broadcaster Seán Street was commissioned by BBC Radio 4 to write his sequence Radio - Ten Poems about Sound as the network's contribution to National Poetry Day. This led to a collection based on the sequence, and ultimately to this book, beginning and ending in silence, and containing in between, the words and music, the images and ideas of a medium which - like poetry - is capable of a potent partnership between maker and 'tuner-in'. Here are poems which speak of the power of radio to pour hatred and dogma into the head and the heart, beside others which celebrate Test Match Special and The Archers. The favourite aphorism about radio is that ‘the pictures are better because we collaborate in their making’ remains true. After all, we may hear with our ears, but we listen with our mind.
Street's radio programme, 'Radio Waves', based on the anthology, can be listened to online globally via this site:
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