EPISODE 4: The Poetry of Samuel Beckett

In this special edition podcast we take you on a journey through sound, into the world and work of Samuel Beckett. With expert commentary from his biographer James Knowlson and the academic John Pilling, as well as insights from acclaimed Beckett actress Lisa Dwan, we’ll discover how Beckett used poetry to ask the questions that lie at the very heart of what it is to be human.

Featuring live material from a Poet in the City celebration of Beckett at Milton Court Theatre in London, we’ll hear live readings of Beckett's work, examine Beckett’s life and relationship to poetry, consider the artistic preoccupations which made Beckett unique as a writer, and ask whether Beckett still speaks to audiences today.

This episode was produced by Alia Cassam


Lisa Dwan is an internationally acclaimed actress and performer of Beckett’s work. She was directed by Billie Whitelaw at the Southbank Centre in 2009, and her trilogy of Beckett’s Not I/Footfalls/Rockaby has been touring the world to international acclaim.

James Knowlson was a friend of Samuel Beckett for the last 19 years of the writer’s life and is the author of his sole authorized biography, ‘Damned to Fame. The Life of Samuel Beckett’ (Bloomsbury, 1996).

John Pilling is the editor of Samuel Beckett Collected Poems, and has written or edited numerous books and articles on Beckett for more than thirty years.

Edward Sayer and Rebecca Lee are rising stars from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Music and Audio Featured in this Programme:

All music featured kindly provided by Portishead

  • ‘Roads’ from the album ‘Dummy’ (1994)
  • ‘Only You’ and ‘Over’ from the album ‘Portishead’ (1997)
  • ‘The Rip’, ‘Threads’, ‘Machine Gun’ and ‘We Carry On’ from the album ‘Third’ (2008)