Entertainment

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage commissioned to mark BBC's centenary year

The poems will be broadcast during the BBC's special week of centenary programming this month.

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage has been commissioned by the BBC to write a poem to mark the broadcaster’s centenary year.

Scottish-Caribbean poet and performer Courtney Stoddart has also been chosen to write a piece, with both poems reflecting on the BBC’s relationship with the nation and 100 years of poetry broadcasting.

Armitage’s poem, Transmission Report, will examine the BBC from a “unique perspective” while Stoddart’s piece, The Invitation, will look towards the next century of public service broadcasting.

The poems will be broadcast during the BBC’s special week of centenary programming, running from October 22 to 29.

Audience at Buckingham Palace
Simon Armitage recently wrote a poem titled Floral Tribute to commemorate the death of the Queen (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Armitage was appointed as the UK’s Poet Laureate in 2019 and has written a number of pieces to commemorate notable occasions, including a poem titled Floral Tribute to commemorate the death of the Queen.

The broadcaster and playwright also presents the BBC Radio 4 series The Poet Laureate Has Gone To His Shed.

Edinburgh-born Stoddart has risen to fame since starting to perform in April 2019, showcasing on both national and international stages within the last two years.

In June 2019, she made it to the final 12 entries in the BBC Radio 1Xtra and BBC Contains Strong Language Festival Word’s First talent scheme and was selected to be published in an anthology by Own It! London.

James Stirling, BBC 100 executive editor, said: “I am delighted that we’re honouring the BBC’s 100-year commitment to connecting viewers and listeners to music and poetry with two of the UK’s finest contemporary poets.

“The poems will be a wonderful addition to our week of special centenary programming.”

Courtney Stoddart (Kat Gollock/BBC/PA)

BBC Radio 3’s poetry and language show The Verb, presented by poet Ian McMillan, has also been celebrating a century of poetry on the BBC.

Throughout the year, the programme is broadcasting 100 poems, some new commissions and other highlights from the BBC archives.

Among the collections being broadcast are WB Yeats reading his poem Song Of The Old Mother, U A Fanthorpe reading Grandfather’s Watch and Ted Hughes reading from Rain-Charm For The Duchy.

The radio show has also commissioned work from 38 of the UK’s up-and-coming contemporary poets, including Malika Booker, Liz Berry, Alice Oswald, Imtiaz Dharker and Luke Wright.