Books: Spoken Word

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The Independent Culture
A NEW spoken-word series published by Bloodaxe Books is perfectly timed for the current debate as to which of our poets is best suited to be Poet Laureate. In an update of its Sixties LP compilations, The Poet Speaks, the British Council is once again making definitive archive recordings of our leading poets. Each Poetry Quartet has two cassettes, on which four poets each have 30 minutes to talk about and present their poetry. Instantly we appreciate age, accent, attitude in a way that is impossible if we merely see the poems on the page. Three issued so far; more to come.

JUST AS revealing as hearing poetry read by the poet is hearing autobiography read by the author. In Show Business: diary of a rock and roll nobody, Radio 1 DJ Mark Radcliffe tells the story of the pop star he never remotely was but spent a decade or so imitating ("I dreamed only of being in a band"). This is a nostalgic reminder of the Seventies, years of flares blowing in the wind, heavy metal so cacophonic that it destroyed a generation's eardrums, and lyrics that make Loaded seem straitlaced. Engagingly frank, always amusing and occasionally very, very funny.