Poets, eh? Never happy, are they? Having moaned for years about the lack of (serious) poetry programmes on TV, I’m now going to whinge that there’s too many for me to keep up with. The problem with the BBC’s Poetry Season is that it has coincided with the first decent spell of summer weather in about three years, the Cricket 20/20 World Cup, and Springwatch. OK, so I can try to catch up with things using iPlayer, but the download speeds are slow and if I’m not careful I just never get round to watching stuff.
It’s not a serious moan, but it would have been nice if they’d spread the programmes over a much longer period, I think.
But anyway, I’ll make the time to download and watch this week’s Poet’s Guide To Britain, which I was rather surprised to see was about Lynette Roberts. Pleasantly surprised, that is – I thought she was a bit too left-field to have made it on there. Good on Owen Sheers and BBC Wales for spreading the net a bit.
I did stay up, too, to watch Michael Wood’s programme about Beowulf. When I was a kid, Wood’s series and book In Search Of The Dark Ages played a big part in getting me interested in the Anglo-Saxon period. There then seemed to be a bit of a backlash against him (presumably on the grounds that he was making history too accessible), but I think that’s nonsense. His more recent book, In Search Of England, is really excellent, and I much prefer his take on the Anglo-Saxons to that of Simon Schama.
Highlights last night were Julian Glover’s one-man show of the poem (not sure I’d actually want to dress up as an Anglo-Saxon to hear it, mind you), and some of the more obscure byways he went down, such as the suggestion that the Black Shuck of East Anglian legend is none other than Grendel in another guise. Seamus Heaney was a bit underused, but on the whole it was good to see poetry and Anglo-Saxon history both getting a good crack of the whip, and Wood’s comments about the poem’s relevance today were spot-on. I’ll be re-reading Heaney’s translation soon.