EPISODE 5: Poetry and Comedy

With Wendy Cope, Luke Wright, Zoe Wanamaker, Tiffany Watt Smith, Rachel
 and Will May. Episode 5 celebrates the sidesplitting, surreal and downright silly side of poetry.

Insights and anecdotes come from poets Wendy Cope and Luke Wright, Zoe Wanamaker channels the spirit of Stevie Smith with some fantastic live readings, and Dr Tiffany Watt Smith, of the Queen Mary University of London Centre for the History of the Emotions, helps to keep order with an academic view on laughter.

This podcast was produced by Alia Cassam.


Wendy Cope became an overnight success with the publication of her 1986 debut poetry collection Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, and in 1987 she received a Cholmondeley Award for poetry. Two Cures for Love: Selected Poems 1979-2006 was published in 2008. In 2010 she was awarded an O.B.E. Her most recent collection, Family Values, was published by Faber in 2011. She is patron of Poet in the City.

Luke Wright is poet, theatre maker and broadcaster. His debut collection, Mondeo Man, was published in 2013. Luke is John Cooper Clarke’s support act and he co-programmes The Latitude Poetry Arena. He has written and performed eight one-man poetry shows. His debut play, the award-winning What I Learned From Johnny Bevan, tours throughout 2016.

Zoë Wanamaker is an Oliver-Award- winning American-born British stage, television, and film actress. She played Stevie Smith in the eponymous play at the Hampstead in 2015 to critical acclaim.

Tiffany Watt Smith is the author of The Book of Human Emotions (2015). She is Research Fellow at the QMUL Centre for the History of the Emotions and has worked as a director in theatres including The Royal Court. She was selected as a BBC New Generation Thinker in 2014 and appears regularly on BBC radio.

Rachel Cooke is a writer at The Observer, where she has won several awards. She is also the television critic of the New Statesman. Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties was published by Virago in 2014.

Will May is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Southampton. He is the editor of The Collected Poems and Drawings of Stevie Smith (2015) and the author of Stevie Smith and Authorship.

Poetry, Music and Audio Featured in this Programme:

  • Stay-at- Home Dandy and Have a Gong! by Luke Wright. From the spoken word album Stay-at- Home Dandy (Nasty Little Press: 2014) Luke’s Got A Joke (extract) from the spoken word album We’re All In This Together (Nasty Little Press: 2012)
  • Bloody Men and Some More Light Verse by Wendy Cope. From Two Cures For Love: Selected Poems 1979-2006 (Faber: 2008)
  • The Galloping Cat, Not Waving But Drowning, Do Take Muriel Out and Souvenir de Monsieur Poop (extract) by Stevie Smith. Read by Zoe Wanamaker at Kings Place on 15.02.16 Audio recordings copyright © The British Library Board
  • Intro music: Faith in Donkeys by Carlos Filipe Alves

All other music from the albums Tricolore (2013 ) and Etch & Etch Deep (2013) by Haiku Salut

  • Man laughing – recorded by Mike Koenig