Hannah Lowe BBC Radio interviews & reviews for The Kids

Hannah Lowe BBC Radio interviews & reviews for The Kids


'Hannah Lowe's brilliant and entertaining book of sonnets, The Kids, is one of the most humorous and tender collections of recent times.'  - Seán Hewitt, The Irish Times (best poetry of 2021)


Hannah Lowe's third collection The Kids was published by Bloodaxe on 16 September 2021. It was the Poetry Book Society's Choice for Autumn 2021 and is on the shortlist for both the 2021 Costa Poetry Award and the T S Eliot Prize.

The book draws on Hannah Lowe's experience of teaching for a decade in an inner-city London sixth form. At the heart of this book of compassionate and energetic sonnets are ‘The Kids’, her students, the teenagers she nurtured. But the poems go further, meeting her own child self as she comes of age in the riotous 80s and 90s, later bearing witness to her small son learning to negotiate contemporary London.  The poems in the first section are informed by Hannah Lowe’s experiences as a teacher in the 2000s, but the scenarios have been fictionalised.

Her previous two collections are Chick (2014), winner of the 2015 Michael Murphy Prize, and Chan (2016).

Details in-person and online events with Hannah Lowe can be seen on Bloodaxe's events pages here.  A video of her joint live-streamed launch reading from 16 September is below.


The Kids was one of Seán Hewitt's poetry books of the year in  The Irish Times of 21 No vember 2021.  Read in full here (by subscription).

'Hannah Lowe's brilliant and entertaining book of sonnets, The Kids, is one of the most humerous and tender collections of recent times.'  - Seán Hewitt, The Irish Times (The year in verse: the best poetry of 2021)



The Guardian, Best recent poetry, Saturday 4 September 2021

Hannah Lowe’s book of sonnets The Kids was well reviewed by Mary Jean Chan in her Guardian round-up of the best recent poetry on 4 September 2021.

‘Hannah Lowe’s previous two collections, Chick and Chan, focused on her relationship with her Jamaican-Chinese father, alongside coming-of-age recollections. The Kids marks a departure: an introspective book of modern sonnets, it offers a glimpse into her experiences of teaching in an inner-city London sixth form. The collection includes homages to her own teachers, and concludes with a sequence lovingly written for her young son… This is a playful yet moving collection that will make the reader frown and laugh, sometimes both at once.’ – Mary Jean Chan, The Guardian

Read in full here.


The Irish Times, in print Saturday 25 September, online 30 September 2021

An excellent review of Hannah Lowe’s third collection The Kids ran in The Irish Times of 25 September.

‘Hannah Lowe’s The Kids combines formal skill with a rare bravery, and bears a lightness of touch that is often virtuosic. This book of sonnets is deeply enjoyable to read… The sequencing of the sonnets is brilliant, so that the book unfolds and deepens with every new page.’  – Seán Hewitt, The Irish Times

Read in full here.


Morning Star, Monday 25 October 2021

The Kids was reviewed in Andy Croft’s 21st Century Poetry column in the Morning Star of 25 October, under the standfirst: ‘Three great new collections about the unknowable past and the unknown future’.

‘Hannah Lowe’s third full-length collection The Kids is a book of loose, light-touch sonnets about growing up and growing old, parents and children, teaching and learning.’ – Andy Croft, Morning Star

Read in full here.



Free Thinking: Belonging, BBC Radio 3, Thursday 16 September 2021, 10pm

Hannah Lowe was a guest on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking on 16 September (publication day).  She was discussing ideas of belonging with host Shahidha Bari and fellow guests Akram Khan, Tash Aw and Eleanor Lybeck.

Hannah began by reading ‘The Art of Teaching II’ from her third collection The Kids. The poems ‘In H&M’, ‘Janine’, ‘Janine II’ and ‘The Only English Kid’ were discussed. She spoke about her experience of teaching at an inner-city London sixth form college in the 2000s, which informs the first section of her new collection.  Hannah joined the discussion later to talk about the ‘unspoken sorrow’ of her father’s experience of migration from Jamaica to London, and his father’s migration from China to Jamaica.

"I have no relation or friend" - words spoken by Frankenstein's monster in Mary Shelley's 1818 novel. That story, alongside Georg Büchner's expressionist classic Woyzeck, has inspired the new production for English National Ballet put together by Akram Khan. He joins poet Hannah Lowe, who's been reflecting on her experiences of teaching London teenagers; Tash Aw, who reflects on his Chinese and Malaysian heritage, and his status as insider and outsider in memoir Strangers on a Pier; and New Generation Thinker Eleanor Lybeck, who's been looking at the images of music hall performance and circus life in the paintings of Walter Sickert (1860-1942) and Laura Knight (1877-1970) for a conversation exploring different ideas about belonging. Shahidha Bari hosts.’

Hannah contributes at 2.56 and 29.02. She is interviewed from 15.31. Listen here.


On Form: The Sonnet, BBC Radio 4, Sunday 23 May 2021, 4.30pm

Vidyan Ravinthiran and Hannah Lowe contribute to this episode of Andrew McMillan’s series on poetic form. Both poets were interviewed, and then read their own poems.  Vidyan read ‘Aubade’ from his second collection The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here, a book of love sonnets to his wife. Hannah Lowe read ‘The Register’ and ‘Sonnet for the A Level English Literature and Language Poetry Syllabus’ from her third collection The Kids (out 16 September 2021 from Bloodaxe, and a Poetry Book Society Choice).

‘In this series, free verse poet Andrew McMillan meets a diverse group of contemporary British poets who are re-framing traditional techniques to write about the modern world, exploring why form is fashionable again.  In today’s programme, poet and academic Aviva Dautch goes back in time to unpick the history of the classic but flexible sonnet, with poems read by Juliet Stevenson. She traces the sonnet’s European origins and the poetic revolution that happened once it reached the UK and became a mainstay of English poetry in a modern multicultural Britain. This year sees the publication of three books of sonnets with new takes, ranging from playful to dark, on the traditional form. We’ll meet Jacqueline Saphra, author of 100 Lockdown Sonnets, as well as sonneteers Vidyan Ravinthiran and Hannah Lowe, hearing poems that travel from Limehouse canals to inner-city classrooms.’

Vidyan joined from 16:15 and Hannah at 21:30. A clip from Vidyan’s interview ran in the intro.   LIsten here.



Hannah Lowe talks about her work


Hannah Lowe reads 'The Art of Teaching II' from The Kids


Joint live-streamed Bloodaxe launch reading, 16 September 2021: Hannah Lowe, Stephanie Norgate and Selima Hill

A joint launch reading by Selima Hill, Hannah Lowe and Stephanie Norgate celebrating the publication of their new poetry collections was streamed live on 16 September 2021, and is now on YouTube.  Both Selima and Hannah's collections have since been shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize 2021.

Hannah Lowe and Stephanie Norgate read live and discussed their new collections with the host, Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley. Audio recordings of Selima Hill reading from and discussing her book with Emily Berry, editor of The Poetry Review, were extracted with permission from the Poetry Society's Poetry Review Podcast of April 2021, and were accompanied by screenshares of the poems read and photographs of Selima Hill taken over the many years she has been published by Bloodaxe.

This joyful and very moving event is now on YouTube - see video below.  Stephanie Norgate read first in each set, beginning with her poems in memory of her close friend and fellow Bloodaxe poet Helen Dunmore. Hannah Lowe read second. Stephanie and Hannah discussed their third collections The Conversation and The Kids with host Neil Astley, talking among many other things about the difficult issue of how to write about real people.  Selima Hill's conversation with Emily Berry is an absolute delight - she read and spoke about poems from her 20th collection Men Who Feed Pigeons, as well as much else besides.  Stephanie and Hannah also read their favourite poems from Selima's book.

[26 May 2021]

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