Monday, September 24, 2007

The Verb, Radio 3, featuring David Morley and THE INVISIBLE KINGS

Until Friday 28th September, I think, you should be able to catch the latest Verb show by clicking this link to Radio 3.

I've just been listening to the programme myself online and particularly enjoying the delights of David Morley reading from his brand-new Carcanet book of poetry, THE INVISIBLE KINGS, which Ian MacMillan, poet and Verb presenter, describes as 'a book that seems to redefine the things that poetry can do.'

THE INVISIBLE KINGS is a book of poetry about the Romani. David Morley is a Gajo, which means half-Romani, and has long avoided writing about his Romani heritage because discussing Romani business is considered 'bad manners' as he puts it on this radio show, with most family history kept secret or passed on orally. Following a reading in Sweden, however, he met an old family friend whose comments inspired him to go home and write these poems about his rich and often tragic tribal heritage, poems which are highly musical, declamatory and steeped in the Romani language. David Morley says, in fact, that this book 'completely wrote itself'.

I am in the middle of reading THE INVISIBLE KINGS myself, so was very interested to listen to this programme, not least because I felt it shed much-needed light on some of Morley's unusual and stirring poetry.

Listening to David Morley read the title poem here was a revelation. For a start, the lines are riddled with Romani words - translated on a separate page - and I was able to hear how they should be correctly pronounced and emphasised. I was also fascinated to learn that the title poem is written in the voice of a tribal shaman who is, like Morley himself, a Gajo - half-Romani. His thoughts, dreams, visions, stories and declarations make up the long poem - written in couplets and divided into several sections - that lies at the heart of THE INVISIBLE KINGS.

Here's the full line-up for last week's Verb (Radio 3):

David Morley
Ian McMillan talks to David Morley, the author of what promises to be one of the most thrilling volumes of poetry published this year - The Invisible Kings. Written partly in English and partly in Romani his poetry moves and sounds like music ... it zings with images from the natural world and gives voice to a culture that's emerging from the shadows.

Sarah Hall & D.J. Taylor
There are also two brand new pieces of writing inspired by water in general and flooding in particular. A short story by Sarah Hall, whose novel, The Electric Michelangelo was on the Booker Shortlist not so long ago and a meditation on words and water by her fellow novelist, D.J.Taylor.

Peter Blegvad
Peter Blegvad has composed one of his inimitable audio cartoons on the perils and pains of persistant scriptorum carborundum, also known as writer's block.

The Verb resonates to the sound of Beat Boxing - we have a short, not to say punchy guide to the history and practice of Beat Boxing from the acknowledged master, Beardyman.
You can buy David Morley's THE INVISIBLE KINGS here.

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