I’m still all a-buzz from my first experience as guest poet on Radio 4’s Saturday Live at the weekend. Guest poets (currently, about five different poets, including Matt Harvey and Kate Fox are being used on a rotating basis) are required to write and perform two new poems for the show. The first, at the start of the show, must be a twenty-second response to one of the major news stories of the week, while the second needs to be a longer piece that reflects on one of the items that’s covered in the programme. Generally, poets know what the topics will be about twenty-four hours in advance of the live show, which means that it’s quite a high-pressure writing situation!
The poem I came up with – written in response to a feature about a young woman who suffers from ME – is now on the Saturday Live website and there should be a Listen Again link there too. ME was quite a challenging subject to tackle as the Saturday Live house style tends to be sharp and entertaining, in the tradition of slam and performance poetry, while ME is, of course, a serious and emotive subject which doesn’t naturally lend itself to that kind of treatment.
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge though – and the whole experience. It was a real privilege to be in the studio alongside novelist Rose Tremain and to gain an insight into how the show is put together.