I love the work of Michael Symmons Roberts. He's one of the finest writers in Britain at the moment and quite possibly the best religious poet we have. This year, he has published two books: his second novel, Breath, and his fifth collection of poems, The Half-Healed. Both fine books, of which I intend to say more in due course. In this coming Sunday's Sunday Feature on Radio 3, he'll be exploring why elegy is such an enduring poetic mode. Apparently, he
talks to poets Douglas Dunn, Michael Longley and Gillian Clarke about their own elegies and discusses with Andrew Motion the challenges of writing elegies at times of public mourning. Michael writes a series of elegies to the elegists of the past and asks whether, in the way it captures lost moments, objects and people, all poetry is elegy.
Michael's radio style is distinctive and interesting. Should be worth hearing.
Another fine poet and novelist, John Burnside, was the guest on Sunday past's Private Passions, also on Radio 3. I like the programme for its focus on music, as befits its home. Burnside's choices are varied and beautiful; his comments on them typically intelligent and illuminating of his sensibilities and insights. Definitely worth listening to on the iPlayer before next Sunday's edition expunges it.