BBC Radio 3: The Verb

My third commission for The Verb, an Incident of Originality, is a text exploring concept of originality and authenticity, which was the theme of the show - The Fake. It features contributions from Maja Jantar, Prudence Chamberlain and Zuzana Husarova.

The programme is hosted by the ever brilliant Ian McMillan and this edition also featured Ira Lightman, novelist Delphine de Vigan and comedian Mark Steel, broadcast on April 28th 2017.

A note on An Incident of Originality : "My previous commission for the Verb, The Worm in its Core, actually began a period of writing in a very certain aesthetic - literary but quite computational – abstract at times, using more common speech but also quite disembodied, so this piece followed suit. I think modernist theatrical writing has been influence, as I’ve been writing more theatre – Pinter, Beckett, Churchill certainly.

It is written for a kind of monologue delivery, addressing an abstract other. It’s about the impossibility of originality, or something like that. It was in earlier drafts about literal thinking, how that is the root of nearly all ethical malignancy, on both sides of debate nowadays certainly – the false binary that drives the left and right, the death of complexity and ambiguity in discussion and often in poetry too, and how this is connected to the myth of the original poem / poet, and the traditional, formal, metaphysical and romantic notion of the poet as producing original work, as though they invented language itself.

But with further edits, its became more about me burying this commentary in strange tonal and conversational shifts, though it is still about authenticity being a fundamental acceptance of authenticity’s impossibility and the paradox at the heart of that. "


The Worm in its Core

was commissioned as a new poem / performance by Radio 3's The Verb, hosted by Ian McMillan, for broadcast on January 15th 2016, in response to Hearing the Voice - a project which explores, and demystifies auditory verbal hallucinations. A great privilege to write something responding such a vital and intelligently conceived project, and to share it on The Verb, which has always maintained a laudable balance between all forms and modes of literature, bringing them where they belong, together, in brilliant conjunction. 

The poem / performance is available to listen to on the right and the full episode with discussions, featuring Charles Fernyhough, Jennifer Hodgson and David Morley, below.


Electric Dada

Broadcast on May 3rd 2013, my first appearance on the Verb was in support of the Electronic Voice Phenomena tour, which ran across the UK, visiting seven cities. I performed a piece that didn't actually feature in my tour commission, as myself and the producer, Tom Chivers of Penned in the Margins, wanted to keep that secret for live audiences. I was joined on the episode by Rebecca Solnit amongst others. 

The notion of my commission for EVP, Electric Dada, was that the original movement, almost 100 years before, was powerfully motivated by displacement and death, embodied in WWI as a mass madness and mortal cult and that Dada responded to that, almost as the sound of the ghosts created. So I mediated the dead voices through a slow descent into madness on stage, across each evening. My performance on The Verb was to tip my hat to that, in sound poetry.