Radio: Orwell and the Absurd

My first radio piece went out last night: a tiny essay, and a conversation with Shahidha Bari, on George Orwell and absurdity.

‘This evening I saw a heron flying over Baker Street…’ (George Orwell). These herons were photographed in Amsterdam by Julie Hrudova

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Interviews

I’ve done a couple of interviews recently, following my selection as a New Generation Thinker.

Here’s one I did for Durham’s English blog!

And here’s one I did for the main Durham account.

There’s bits in there about my work, but also about the process of becoming an NGT: how I applied and prepared for the workshops, and how I found the experience.

Flat Lowry

When I go to art galleries, and afterwards pop into the gift shop, I can never find postcards of the pictures I really liked. So I carry a ghost gallery in my head: Ed and Melody by Robert Mapplethorpe (1988); Stanley Spencer’s The Dustman (1934)…

At the Lowry in Salford, I twisted the postcard display in vain – because the images I liked weren’t the ‘matchstalk men’ that come to mind when we think of L. S. Lowry:

Image result for lowry match
L. S. Lowry, ‘Going to the Match’ (1928)

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Dorothy Richardson in Abingdon

richardson8

I happened to see on Twitter that the Abingdon County Hall Museum, just a few miles from Oxford, was holding a week-long exhibition on the life and work of Dorothy Richardson. I’ve got a great dissertation student working on Dorothy Richardson this year, so I decided that this counted as teaching prep. I left my (almost-finished) thesis behind for the mid-week trip to Abingdon.

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Singing Smith: Five Musical Poems

Well, it’s always fun doing this, fitting other words to an old tune. (Stevie Smith, ‘A Turn Outside’

Stevie Smith sang a lot of her poems in performance. Often, her subtitles include instructions about the tunes which they should be sung to.

'Miss Pauncefort sang at the top of her voice...' The Songster
‘Miss Pauncefort sang at the top of her voice…’

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Persons from Porlock: Smith, MacNeice, Thomas

It was not right of Coleridge in fact it was wrong
(But often we all do wrong)
As the truth is I think he was already stuck
With Kubla Khan.

He was weeping and wailing: I am finished, finished,
I shall never write another word of it,
When along comes the Person from Porlock
And takes the blame for it.

Illustration to Stevie Smith's 'Thoughts About the Person from Porlock'
Illustration of Stevie Smith’s ‘Thoughts About the Person from Porlock’ (1962)

Coleridge’s Person from Porlock had a good few outings in the mid-twentieth-century.

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