‘Hedge Sparrows’, by Dr Richard Price from the British Library, is chosen as the poem to represent Great Britain in the Olympics
As part of a unique Cultural Olympiad Project, The Written World has chosen a poem to represent all 204 competing nations at the London 2012 games. The poem for Great Britain can now be revealed as 'Hedge Sparrows' by Dr Richard Price, Head of Content and Research Strategy at the British Library. Jim Broadbent has recorded a reading of the poem, which will be broadcast by BBC Radio Scotland on Friday 27 July and available via Front Row from 30 July.
Price has beaten Blake, Wordsworth and Shakespeare to the punch with ‘Hedge Sparrows’. The poem gives voice to a bird that is found almost everywhere in the UK, a representative free of region, gender and ethnicity. 'Hedge Sparrows' depicts a bird twittering in our rapid-fire world of social media, where messages fly around the world in the form of tweets. Described as a prose poem, which fuses elements of prose with the cadences of poetry, here the rapidity of the hedge sparrow’s song is mimicked by its delivery in one long sentence.
Dr Richard Price, who was born in Reading and grew up in Renfrewshire, has had extensive involvement in the poetry small press as publisher, editor and critic. He was thrilled to learn that his poem was chosen to represent Britain saying:
“It was such a surprise to have 'Hedge Sparrows' chosen for this project! It’s amazing to be wearing the Team GB t-shirt for poetry. And because this is a poetry event the atmosphere is more world celebration than territorial competition – I love the way the extraordinarily rich variety of poems in the Written World from around the globe have been spoken by those in the UK with connections back to the originating countries. … It’s meant to be (in my head, anyway) half a punk record, half a praise poem. It’s meant to be a challenge but also a work of affection. Yes: a prose poem of punk praise.”
The reading by Jim Broadbent captures the chattiness and self deprecating humour of the hedge sparrow's commentary on the changing face of its environment and community. Jim Broadbent said:
“I love Richard Price's poem and I'm delighted to be reading it for Great Britain. In one long elaborate sentence it connects on many levels. It immediately brings to mind all the hedgerows I have seen disappear in Lincolnshire, and of course all the ones that are still there, thriving, and a home to so many creatures, all busily going about their lives harmoniously. There is an understated humour in the poem which brings the world of the hedge sparrows, and indeed ourselves, into sharp focus. As a poem for our nation, I couldn't imagine a better choice.”
Poetry 2012 – The Written World has been an epic project, sourcing poems to represent each competing nation in the London 2012 Games. With each poem evoking a sense of home and place, familiar themes emerge, whether it's the smell of home cooking, the colours and sounds of home or areas of natural beauty that as listeners and readers we can appreciate and relate to … wherever we're from. A poem a day has been broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland and now the poems can be heard on BBC Radio 4's Front Row for the first two weeks of the Olympics from Monday 30th July, on BBC Radio 2's Aled Jones Show and on In Tune for listeners to BBC Radio 3.
The project in partnership with BBC Radio Scotland is spearheaded by The Scottish Poetry Library and its Director Robyn Marsack said of the GB selection:
“It’s great to have a contemporary poet, but not one of the more obvious stars: for London 2012, it’s right that someone who excels at their art (or sport) should suddenly emerge into the spotlight. Like the athletes, Richard Price has done his serious training – otherwise he couldn’t have written something that looks effortless. In this project we’re not going for the oil painting, the Great National Poem, we’re going for the snapshot you’d send your friends, something distinctive, appealing, and British. I think we found it in ‘Hedge Sparrows’.”
Robyn's sentiments were echoed by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, who described 'Hedge Sparrows' as: “A great choice - full of energy, both startling and moving.”
Jim Broadbent's reading of Hedge Sparrows will be first broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland on Friday 27th at 05.28am and again on MacAulay & Co 10.30 – 12.00pm and on The Iain Anderson Show between 10pm and midnight. Listeners to BBC Radio's Front Row will also be able to listen to the poem from Monday 30th July.
Notes to Editors:
To find the downloads of the first 30 poems go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radioscotland
There will also be a link on the Poetry 2012 page to the podcasts http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01kxzvr
All the poems are available to be read on the Scottish Poetry Library website via their interactive World Map here: http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/about/projects-partners/written-world
For further information on the project, images and interview requests please contact Owen O'Leary on 07815 992658 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands is the British Library’s London 2012 Festival exhibition, running until 25 September 2012.
For more information contact:
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