Page last updated at 11:58 GMT, Friday, 29 May 2009 12:58 UK

Poetry special

In this Friday's Newsnight Review, Martha and guests will be looking at the state of modern poetry. Can today's poets affect social change, test the boundaries of form and take poetry forward with the times?

Poetry and politics

Tell Me Lies: Adrian Mitchell
Adrian Mitchell's posthumously published collection

There is no escaping it at the moment, poetry has been hitting the headlines recently with the appointment of a new laureate and scandal at Oxford University as the new professor of poetry resigned.

But can poetry force a change for the better in the political sphere, or are the nation's poets too caught up in their own political intrigues?

Martha examines the development of poetry and its role in national life. With a glance back at historical poets who sought to provide pertinent social commentary, we ask whether the role of the poet is still as relevant to national life as it was in the days of Milton and Shelley.

And the panel will also be assessing the impact of the modern political poetry scene. Are young poets producing the sort of political work which will impinge on the popular consciousness?

And we will be taking a closer look at Adrian Mitchell's final collection, Tell Me Lies: Poems 2005-2008 which is published by Bloodaxe.


Children in classroom
How can teachers make poetry interesting to school children?

Poet Scroobius Pip looks at the popular perception of poets and poetry from teaching in schools, to the portrayal of the poet in television and film. Is it still ruffs and flounces all round or has the image of the poet been updated to reflect 21st Century reality?

Martha and the panel will discuss the traditional teaching of poetry in schools and the challenges teachers face when trying to engage children with the classics.

And the panel will also be discussing the depiction of the poet in popular culture. Are the big blockbusters doing anything to dispel traditional myths about the artform? And they will be casting a critical eye over the BBC's poetry season.


Benjamin Zephaniah
Renowned performance poet Benjamin Zephaniah

Poet Clare Pollard, talks about her own experiences and investigates current poetic trends in the ways poets reach their audiences. Her Voice Recognition anthology which draws together new poetic voices (Bloodaxe, September 2009) will be debated by the panel.

Our guests will also discuss how young and upcoming poets are testing the boundaries of conventional versifying, through the spoken word and use of the internet. Has the content of poetry been changed by the digital revolution? Is there still a distinction to be drawn between music and poetry?

And actor Damian Lewis will read the panel's choice of exciting new voices on the poetry scene.

Would you like to exercise your poetic genius?


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