Power Lines

A week of stories from Wales on aspects of power.



Poet Inua Ellams looks at how spoken word is tied to location.

Poet and playwright Inua Ellams looks at how place plays out in spoken word poetry with writers from Orkney, Manchester, Salford and Donaghadee in Northern Ireland.

Inua talks to poet and performer Harry Giles about language, literary baggage and growing up LGBT in Orkney. Writer Elmi Ali and members of the Young Identity collective tell him what it means to be a Mancunian poet. And he talks to Rachel McCrum about audiences, accents and nostalgia for the place where you spent your childhood.

The poems featured in this episode are:

Harry Giles "Visa Wedding"
Harry Giles "Drone" with music by Neil Simpson
Kieren King "Salford Is A Broadway Musical"
Rachel McCrum "Broad"
Roma Havers
Shameer Rayes "Reasons"
Damani "Violet Skies"
Isaiah Hull "The Mirror"
Emil Ali "Water Seeds Not Stones" (play extract)
Inua Ellams "Ghetto Van Gogh"
The Midnight Run featuring Kelly Foster (tour guide and Brixton historian)

Producer: Sally Spurring
A Wire Free production for BBC Radio 4.

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Poet Sabrina Mahfouz talks to spoken word performers from across the UK.

Poet, playwright and performer Sabrina Mahfouz talks to spoken word performers from across the UK.

In this second episode, Sabrina looks at identity and empathy with poets from Wrexham to Huddersfield and from Birmingham to Southend-On-Sea.

She talks to poet and playwright Yomi Sode about writing with his family and moving from the stage to the page. Welsh writer Sophie McKeand explains how walking in the woods informs her work. Bohdan Piasecki performs a poem in Polish. And Sabrina seeks out Lisa Luxx whose performances are celebrated for their power and connectivity.

The poems featured in this episode are:

Jet Sweeney "RIP(E)"

Yomi Sode "Take It Back" (from the Roundhouse "And Now What" Season)

Yomi Sode "Daily Ijo"

Catherine Wilson "Today I Took A Bus Ride With My Anxiety"

Sophie McKeand "How. To. Ask. For. Help."

Bohdan Piasecki "Cisza"

Lisa Luxx "Grandmother Earth"

Producer: Sally Spurring
A Wire Free production for BBC Radio 4.


The dynamic and burgeoning world of UK spoken word poetry.

A series about how the dynamic world of spoken word poetry is thriving in communities across the whole of the UK.

In three programmes, Power Lines explores the escalating popularity of spoken word among audiences who have traditionally avoided poetry altogether. Through politics, identity and place, presenters Sabrina Mahfouz and Inua Ellams look at how spoken word has become the breeding ground for a whole new generation of writers who are changing poetry in the UK. They cross the country talking to poets from Manchester, Huddersfield, Bury, Edinburgh, Bristol and Wrexham, on boats, in forests, theatres, parks and pubs, challenging the assertion that spoken word is, as poet Joelle Taylor puts it, "the dumb cousin of 'real' poetry".

Programme One: Politics
Poet and playwright Inua Ellams talks to spoken word poet Zia Ahmed who deals with his frustration with racism by 'speaking it out'. Peter Bearder explains how some protest poets are being drawn into mainstream politics through the Labour Party. And he finds 23 year old Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan whose slam competition winning poem has been viewed by over two million people online.

The poems featured in the programme are:

JJ Bola "I Found Hip Hop"
Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan " This Is Not A Humanising Poem"
Zia Ahmed "Home"
Joelle Taylor "Everything You Have Ever Lost" and "The Correct Spelling of My Name"
Pete (the Temp) Bearder "Manifesto for a Revolutionary Poetic"

A Wire Free production for BBC Radio 4.

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by Sian James, read by Simon Harris. Even at his mother's funeral, Glyn still experiences feelings of guilt.


by Sue Morgan, read by Sara McGaughey.

Should Elin settle for a life shaped by the strong pull of home?

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by Don Rodgers, read by Patrick Brennan. The power of pain divides two young brothers.

by Don Rodgers, read by Patrick Brennan. The power of pain divides two young brothers.


by Tessa Hadley. The power of passion beneath the surface of a suburban marriage.

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by Gee Williams, read by Siw Hughes. The patrons of a mobile library fight for paperback romances. But for one man the power of words is life and death.

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