EPISODE 1: Off the Page and on to the Stage

Why does Andrew Motion think all poems are performance poems? How did Juliet Stevenson’s reading of a WH Auden poem onstage lead to the beginnings of a career in acting? These and other intriguing questions are explored in ‘Off the Page and onto the Stage’ – a special edition podcast from Poet in the City that takes an insider’s perspective on the art and craft of taking page poetry and turning it into live performance.

With insights, commentary and performances from actors, producers and poets, this programme goes on a journey that begins with poetry performances of the past, to those happening here and now, and finally looking into the future for live performance.

With contributions from Dean Atta, Andrew Motion, Tim Dee and Juliet Stevenson.

This podcast was produced by Alia Cassam.


Dean Atta is a writer and performance poet. He won the 2012 London Poetry Award and was named as one of the most influential LGBT people by the Independent on Sunday Pink List 2012. His debut poetry collection I Am Nobody’s Nigger was published in 2013 by The Westbourne Press.

Tim Dee is a BBC Radio Producer and writer. He specialises in arts programming for Radio 3 and 4, particularly poetry. Programmes include The Echo Chamber, A Map of British Poetry and Poetry Please. He also produces history documentaries and radio drama. He is the author of three books including The Running Sky (2009), The Poetry of Birds (2009) – an anthology co-edited with Simon Armitage, and most recently Four Fields (2013).

Andrew Motion is Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. He was Poet Laureate from 1999 until 2009 and was knighted for his services to literature in 2009. His new collection of poems is The Cinder Path (Faber) and Ways of Life: Places, Painters and Poets (Faber) is his latest collection of essays. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and co-founder of The Poetry Archive.

Juliet Stevenson is one of Britain’s leading actresses, both of stage and screen. In 1992 she won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress for Death and the Maiden. She is widely known for her role on screen in the award-winning film Truly, Madly, Deeply, directed by Anthony Minghella. Other film credits include Bend It Like Beckham (2002), Emma (1996) and Mona Lisa Smile (2003). In 1999 Juliet Stevenson was awarded a CBE for her services to drama.

Music featured in this programme:

  • Intro music: ‘Dansi Dans’ by For A Minor Reflection – from the album ‘Höldum í átt að óreiðu’ (Feb 2012)
  • Reading of Ted Hughes: ‘Pike from Lupercal ’ – from ‘The Spoken Word Ted Hughes: Poems and Short Stories’, British Library Publishing (Oct 2008)
  • Song: ‘See You Later Allen Ginsberg (Take 2)’ – from ‘Bob Dylan & The Band: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete’ (Nov 2014)
  • Song: ‘Before’ by Vok – from the EP ‘Tension’ (Oct 2014)
  • Song: ‘Thynnkudagur’ by Jóhann Jóhannsson – from ‘Dis’ (Nov 2004)
  • Song: ‘Hafið er svart’ by Jónas Sigurðsson – from ‘Þar sem himin ber við haf’ (2012)
  • Song: ‘To The East’ by Electrelane – from ‘No Shouts, No Calls’ (Apr 2007)