Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Brilliant Poetica podcast on Les Murray in Bunyah

Well, this is a gift.

Poetica - the Saturday afternoon poetry program produced by Mike Ladd for the The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio National - has a poetry podcast series with an episode on Les Murray.

Les Murray is the great, living Australian poet we are scoring this year. We are scoring his long city poem, The Sydney Highrise Variations, though Les was born in the country and lives and works there now, in Bunyah.

"In this feature, producers Jane and Phillip Ulman visit the Bunyah home of Les Murray, his wife Valerie and son Alexander," Ladd introduced the podcast.

"Surrounded by winged musicians, frogs, insects and domestic animals, the participants walk and talk and share a meal. During the visit Les Murray reads his poems and reflects on poetry and place, knowledge, discovery, family and God."

That sums it up well. In a touch that closely resembles what we do in scoring poems, there is interspersed music, performed effectively by Hollis Taylor (violin), Joyce Chu (saxophone and flute), and Madeleine Slattery (vocals).

The sound engineer Phillip Ulman did a pristine job with all of these elements, very much including the Bunyah animals life, which fittingly is allowed to be as loud as the poetry and music.
There also is a slideshow (a rare treat!) featuring photographs by Les' wife Valerie. She is enormously important to his life and work, but very seldom makes this public of an appearance. In the show, she walks with Les and the producers and has her say throughout.

There also is a transcript of the program, so us poetry nerds can follow the all-important line and stanza breaks as Les performs.

This is simply the best introduction to Les Murray's work and character that I have encountered - as good as I can imagine, other than actually visiting the Murrays in Bunyah oneself.

By the way, Poetica's self-description is really close to the spirit of Poetry Scores:

"Poetica is dedicated to the performance of poetry and ranges freely among contemporary Australian and overseas work as well as drawing on ancient sources and from bi-lingual programs, live readings, studio-based poetry features and on-location recordings."

I think we have found a more accomplished Australian kindred spirit!


Photo of Les in Bunyah by Valerie.

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