Tongue And Talk - The Dialect Poets

Episodes

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0101North West2018051320180519 (R4)A three part series exploring dialect poetry in different parts of England.

In this first programme, actor and writer Catherine Harvey returns to her roots in north west England to see if the dialect poetry of the cotton mills of 19th Century Lancashire is still alive today.

The Lancashire dialect poets were once household names and their writings articulated the voices of cotton weavers and mill workers in Victorian industrial Lancashire with a mixture of humour and pathos. Catherine Harvey says, "The vivid dialect remains with me, not as something quaintly archaic but present now in the way I speak and write, their voices resonating in the language heard around the north west today."

Later in the series, writer James Walker unearths the dialect poetry of the Nottinghamshire miners who penned their verse underground and children's writer Kirsty McKay offers a snapshot of dialect poetry in Northumberland today.

A Made in Manchester production for BBC Radio 4.

Catherine Harvey explores if the dialect poetry of 19th-century Lancashire is alive today.

Series exploring dialect poetry in different parts of England.

0102East Midlands2018052020180526 (R4)Writer James Walker unearths the dialect poetry of the Nottinghamshire miners who penned their verse underground in the county where he was born and bred.

Through the humour of poems like Miner's Dream and Pity Pony, James explores a language used almost exclusively by miners and finds retired pitmen still reciting pit talk poetry in pubs and other venues across Nottinghamshire. He says: 'these men cry regularly at this poetry. Big retired pit men getting all emotional. It's quite an experience.'

As part of the programme, James visits the former home of famous Nottinghamshire novelist and poet DH Lawrence where he meets mining historian and former miner David Amos. He also talks to Natalie Braber, Associate Professor at Nottingham Trent University about her research into pit talk and dialects, language and identity.

James hears some of the poems penned underground, translates the dialect and tries to understand what made so many miners turn to poetry. He also discovers how dialect pit poetry is being kept alive by forming the lyrics to new folk music.

Meanwhile part of the programme explores the Nottinghamshire dialect more widely including the use of the greeting 'duck' There's also a performance by Nottinghamshire dialect poet Bridie Squires about the local word 'mardy'.

A Made in Manchester production for BBC Radio 4.

Writer James Walker explores the dialect poetry from the pits in Nottinghamshire.

Series exploring dialect poetry in different parts of England.

0103 LASTNorthumberland2018052720180602 (R4)In the final episode of this three part series, children's author Kirsty Mckay offers a snapshot of dialect poetry in Northumberland today.

When Kirsty returned home recently she was struck by how dialect and culture was being eroded by the encroachment of urbanisation and the influx of people moving into the area.

Here Kirsty rediscovers the dialect poetry by listening to old tapes recorded by her late father. She says: 'I found recording after recording of dialect poetry, often accompanied by local musicians, some recorded in late night lock-ins at local pubs or by the fire in the tiny cottage I'd known as a child.'

Kirsty sets out on an exploration of identity and the future of the Northumbrian language in the poetry of the Cheviot hills.

Among the people she meets along the way are poet, musician and composer James Tait, retired shepherd Allan Wood and poet and historian Katrina Porteous. Kirsty also hears poetry from the children of Harbottle School and the entrants of The Morpeth Gathering.

Meanwhile the case is made for Northumbrian as a language, not a dialect. It represents the remainder of Old English and is the grandmother of the Scottish language.

Tongue and Talk: The Dialect Poets is produced by Made in Manchester for BBC Radio 4.

Children's author Kirsty McKay explores dialect poetry in Northumberland.

Series exploring dialect poetry in different parts of England.

0201Cumbria2019060220190608 (R4)A return of the series on dialect poetry in different parts of the UK. Poet and novelist Katie Hale explores the legacy of early dialect poets in her native county of Cumbria, to discover if dialect poetry is a way of expressing local identity.

Cumbria has a long history of dialect poetry, beginning with poets like Josiah Relph, Susanna Blamire and Robert Anderson, and continuing right up to the present day. Katie finds out more about some of these historic poets and their contemporary counterparts. She also speaks to Cedric Robinson - the Queen’s Guide to the Sands of Morecambe Bay - and to farmer and writer James Rebanks, trying to understand the connection between dialect, identity and the land itself. How does the place we live in shape who we are and how we choose to express ourselves?

In episodes two and three, the series takes a look at dialect poetry in the Isle of Man and Yorkshire.

A Made in Manchester production for BBC Radio 4

Novelist Katie Hale explores the legacy of early dialect poetry in her native Cumbria.

Series exploring dialect poetry in different parts of England.

Series exploring dialect poetry in different parts of England.

0202Isle Of Man2019060920190615 (R4)Actor and writer Catherine Harvey returns to her family roots in the Isle of Man to explore the voices of Manx dialect and language speakers, whose words are influenced by the Celts and Norsemen.

Catherine concentrating her search in two areas - the north of the island where her family are from and the west, an area associated with the speaking of Manx Gaelic. She looks at the work of T E Brown, who is still thought of as the island’s national poet, and the writers who were part of the Manx Cultural Revival.

In St Johns, she meets Dr Breesha Maddrell, Director of Culture Vannin, to discuss the influence of Manx Gaelic on the dialect of the island, before travelling north to talk to cultural activist, Bob Carswell, and members of The Michael Players – the only organisation in the world regularly performing plays in Manx dialect.

Meanwhile, Catherine asks the current Manx Bard, Annie Kissack, if the dialect and language spoken on the island today has changed – and whether one of them has ultimately triumphed

Other episodes in this series look at dialect poetry in Cumbria and Yorkshire.

A Made in Manchester production for BBC Radio 4

Actor and writer Catherine Harvey explores Manx dialect and language speakers.

Series exploring dialect poetry in different parts of England.

Series exploring dialect poetry in different parts of England.

0203 LASTYorkshire2019061620190622 (R4)Academic Dr Katie Edwards examines the roots and prevalence of dialect poetry in Yorkshire.

Ever since Katie found herself mocked in academic circles for her broad South Yorkshire accent, she's made it her mission to celebrate her linguistic heritage. She travels round what was historically England's largest county discovering a huge range of dialect and dialect poetry. She meets with members of the Yorkshire Dialect Society, hears how dialect has evolved in different parts of Yorkshire, finds out what's been lost down the years and discovers a fresh passion for using Yorkshire dialect among several young poets in the region.

From Ilkley Moor Bah Tat (Yorkshire's unofficial national anthem) via the industry and land that spawned much of the dialect, to poets using it as part of various types of social activism, Katie gets a real sense of a county in which dialect is still very much an important part of identity.

A Made in Manchester production for BBC Radio 4

Academic Katie Edwards examines the roots and prevalence of dialect poetry in Yorkshire.

Series exploring dialect poetry in different parts of England.

Series exploring dialect poetry in different parts of England.

0301A Festival Of Dialect2020081620200822 (R4)In this first programme of the series, actor and writer Catherine Harvey heads to Blackpool for the annual Dialect Festival, which took place before lockdown.

The festival is a celebration of dialect speaking and writing - with participants from as far afield as Cornwall and Northumberland, Kent and Cumbria, gathering for a weekend of poetry, storytelling and song.

Catherine catches up with festival founder Sid Calderbank at a hotel on the seafront to discuss this unique meeting of dialect enthusiasts, and enjoys dialect performances from all over England. She talks to Rod Dimbleby, Chair of the Yorkshire Dialect Society, about Joseph Wright and the first Dialect Dictionary, and to writer and historian Paul Salveson about the future of dialect in our modern world, before the Festival draws to a close at nearby Little Marton windmill - now a museum to local dialect writer Allen Clarke (aka Teddy Ashton) whose work once inspired Tolstoy.

Other episodes in this series look at dialect poetry in East Lincolnshire, The Black Country and The Forest of Dean.

A Made in Manchester production for BBC Radio 4

Actor and writer Catherine Harvey travels to Blackpool for the annual Dialect Festival.

Series exploring dialect poetry in different parts of England.

0302East Lincolnshire2020082320200829 (R4)Alan Mumby, Chairman of Far Welter’d, the East Lincolnshire Dialect Society, explores dialect poetry written and spoken in his native county.

The Society’s name has Danish roots, referring to a sheep that’s fallen on its back and is struggling to recover - and Alan asks whether Lincolnshire dialect, so rarely featured in today’s media, is in similar distress.

Travelling to the tiny hamlet of Somersby, he visits the birthplace of the county’s most famous poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, whose little-known dialect poetry reveals his cherished memories of the villagers who he grew up with.

Many members of Far Welter’d are themselves poets – like Wolds farmer Andy Robinson (aka Billy Woldsworth) and George Danby, who farms on the Fens. Alan talks to them about their writing and how dialect varies throughout the area. While enthusiastic ‘yeller-belly’ Rod Stones discusses the influence of his Danish ancestors on the dialect he speaks today, and Maureen Sutton, Lincolnshire’s Poet Laureate, explores the changing perceptions of dialect in our modern world.

A Made in Manchester production for BBC Radio 4

Alan Mumby explores dialect poetry in East Lincolnshire.

Series exploring dialect poetry in different parts of England.

0303The Forest Of Dean2020083020200905 (R4)The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire has a long literary legacy, from early dialect writing by William Wickenden to Dennis Potter and Winifred Foley. Academic Jason Griffiths talks to colleagues at the University of Gloucestershire about Reading the Forest, their project exploring the area’s literary landscape.

Historian Roger Deeks discusses soldier poet FW Harvey and his influence on later Forest writers, while research fellow Michelle Straw offers fascinating insight into the gendered nature of dialect.

Jason also catches up with local publisher Doug McLean to remember dialect poet and performer Harry Beddington, and meets contemporary poets Keith Morgan and Maggie Clutterbuck, and singer-songwriter Dick Brice. Meanwhile, in search of present-day dialect speakers, he visits the Forest’s freeminers, and discovers how local schools are teaching the next generation of Foresters to value their dialect.

A Made in Manchester production for BBC Radio 4

Jason Griffiths uncovers a rich seam of dialect poetry in his native Forest of Dean.

Series exploring dialect poetry in different parts of England.

0304 LASTThe Black Country2020090620200912 (R4)Writer and performance poet Emma Purshouse explores The Black Country and its poetry in an attempt to discover why the contemporary writers of the region are still using dialect in their work.

In a programme made during lockdown, Emma considers the impact of industry, heritage, landscape, and the changing nature of close-knit communities upon dialect writers, as she catches up with some of the key players of the current Black Country Poetry scene via Zoom meetings, telephone calls and socially distanced meetings in bell pits, parks, market places and gardens.

Armed only with a mask, a digital recorder, and a bottle of hand gel, Emma talks to, among others, the Keeper of the Geology for Dudley Borough, dialect expert Esther Asprey, and poets Brendan Hawthorne, Roy McFarlane, RM Francis and Liz Berry.

A Made in Manchester production for BBC Radio 4

Exploring dialect poetry in The Black Country with writer Emma Purshouse as our guide.

Series exploring dialect poetry in different parts of England.