Cultural Life: Ruth Padel, poet

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The Independent Culture

Books

Raja Shehadeh's 'Palestinian Walks' brilliantly documents the ecological destruction of the West Bank, concreted over by settlers. Nicholas Heiney's 'The Silence at the Song's End' is a poignant record of a packed life and an honest passage through grief; Heiney committed suicide aged 23.

Music

I sing unaccompanied Renaissance songs with a group. Last week, we did a Spanish setting from 1590 of "Canite Tuba" from the Book of Joel.

Film

I expected to find 'Slumdog Millionaire' overhyped but it was intense, stylish, and the photography was amazing.

Television

I don't watch much except wildlife, but I loved 'The Diary of Anne Frank'.

Theatre/opera

Jonathan Miller's 'La Bohème' at Covent Garden; he invented a whole new way of seeing it.

Visual arts

Krishna & Devotion at Asia House displays temple hangings from a sect in India – a visual and imaginative feast.

Ruth Padel’s book ‘Darwin: A Life in Poems’, is published by Chatto on 12 February. She will read from it at Somerset House, London WC2 on 9 February; call the Royal Society of Literature (020-7845 4676) for information. Her weekly programme ‘Darwin My Ancestor’ continues on Tuesdays at 9.30am on Radio 4

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