Despite a fast-paced, changing news agenda, the same key phrases and buzzwords appear year after year among the headlines, read out by newsreaders or posted on social media channels. But what do these terms really mean, and how should they be interpreted in the context of current issues? Common Language will see a poet and an activist or academic paired together to unpack the meaning behind current affairs terminology and their usage among societal issues of today.

Produced by Poet in the City, Common Language is a new digital programme with an initial series spanning four episodes, broadcast live and hosted on YouTube. Each 30 minute conversation will be interspersed by poetry that serves as both an entry point and a response to the topic in hand. The speakers were chosen for their contribution and work within these fields and the poets to share their lived experiences through spoken word.

Launching on the 25 August, with new episodes released fortnightly, the first series will discuss Feminist Direct Action, Borders, Safe Housing and Universal Basic Income. Aiming to be both informative and discursive, the series also emphasises the power of spoken word and poetry’s ongoing contribution to debating the issues of the day.

The topics

As billionaires jet off into space while child poverty and youth unemployment continue to rise, inequality is damaging the prospects of future generations. Bringing together The Repeat Beat Poet and Bea Bannister from UBI Labs Youth, we explore Universal Basic Income and what it could mean for young people today.
Broadcast date: 25 August 2021.
What are borders but social, political and commercial constructs? Writer Maya Goodfellow and poet Nick Makoha explore the impact of Borders on those who live near them or have to cross them.
Broadcast date: 8 September 2021.
Through evictions, poor living conditions and rising homelessness, the pandemic has highlighted the precarious reality of modern-day living. Textile artist and housing activist Ghazal Haqani and poet Ellen Moran will explore the concept of Safe Housing.
Broadcast date: 22 September 2021.
What is the experience of protest like for women, and particularly women of colour? A poet and an activist will discuss Feminist Direct Action in the wake of a year of protest.
Broadcast date: 7 October 2021.