Hannah Lowe BBC Radio interviews, reviews & Books of the Year for The Kids
‘Hannah Lowe’s The Kids is a book to fall in love with - it’s joyous, it’s warm and it’s completely universal. It’s crafted and skilful but also accessible... You will love it!’ - Reeta Chakrabarti, Chair of Judges, 2021 Costa Book of the Year
Hannah Lowe's third collection The Kids was published by Bloodaxe on 16 September 2021. It won the 2021 Costa Poetry Award 2021 and went on to be named Costa Book of the Year. It was the Poetry Book Society's Choice for Autumn 2021, and was shortlisted for the 2021 T S Eliot Prize.
Hannah Lowe taught for a decade in an inner-city London sixth form. At the heart of this book of compassionate and energetic sonnets are fictionalised portraits of ‘The Kids’, the students 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. Across these deeply felt poems, Lowe interrogates the acts of teaching and learning with empathy and humour. Social class, gender and race – and their fundamental intersection with education – are investigated with an ever critical and introspective eye. These boisterous and musical poems explore the universal experience of what it is to be taught, to learn and to teach.
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 2021 is below.
Videos and interviews with Hannah Lowe relating to her winning the 2021 Costa Book of the Year are on our news page here.
ONLINE POEM OF THE WEEK FOR HANNAH LOWE
The Yorkshire Times, Poem of the Week, online 6 September 2022
‘Love’ by Hannah Lowe was featured by Steve Whitaker as his Poem of the Week for 6 September 2022 in the online regional newspaper The Yorkshire Times.
‘Hannah Lowe’s breathtakingly beautiful poem of innocent love is rendered in a form that is perfectly attuned to her theme… The sensitivity of the poet’s language sails her poem towards the shore of elegy, for it is barely possible to extricate the enshrinement of a defining memory from the suggestion of something lost.’ – Steve Whitaker, Poem of the Week, The Yorkshire Times
HANNAH LOWE AT THE BBC PROMS
BBC Proms: Prom 38, BBC Radio 3, Sunday 14 August 2022, 7.30pm
Hannah Lowe was Martin Handley’s guest on BBC Radio 3 during the interval of Prom 38 on 14 August. She had been invited to discuss love poetry in the context of that evening’s Prom and of her own work. She also read two sonnets from her Costa Book of the Year Award-winning collection The Kids: ‘Sixth Form Theatre Trip’ and ‘Pink Hummingbird’. She also read a sonnet by Don Paterson.
‘INTERVAL: Poet Hannah Lowe, whose collection of sonnets The Kids won the Costa Book Award for Poetry in 2021, joins Martin Handley before the performance of excerpts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet to explore how poets from Shakespeare to the present day have written about love.’
Listen via BBC Sounds here. Hannah features from 1:05:40. Available until 23:59 hours on Monday 10 October 2022.
INTERVIEW WITH HANNAH LOWE ON RADIO 3’S THE VERB
The Verb: Adversaries, BBC Radio 3, Friday 4 March 2022, 10pm
Hannah Lowe was guest on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb on 4 March. She was talking about and reading from her Costa Book of the Year-winning third collection The Kids, and also read a new poem commissioned by The Verb on the theme of adversaries.
Hannah read her poems ‘Janine I’ and ‘Janine II’ – about an adversary in the classroom - from The Kids, and read her brand new Verb commission ‘Unbuckled’.
‘Hannah Lowe, fresh from a Costa Book of the Year win for her collection The Kids, will be exploring the adversarial side of the classroom, and unveils a special commission for The Verb. ‘Unbuckled’ takes us into the world of an adversarial romantic relationship - with sad echoes of the Cinderella story.’
Hannah contributes in the intro, then at 15:23 (‘Janine I’), 27:14 (‘Janine II’) and again at 39:24 (‘Unbuckled’). Listen here.
HANNAH LOWE A GUEST ON RADIO 4’S FRONT ROW
Front Row, BBC Radio 4, Thursday 3 March 2022, 7.15pm
Hannah Lowe was a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on 3 March. She was speaking about one of her recent cultural highlights – Kim Moore’s second collection All the Men I Never Married.
Hannah Lowe features from 34.10. Listen here.
Hannah was also interviewed on Front Row immediately after winning the Costa Book of the Year Award on 1 February. An in-depth interview ran on the programme on 6 January - see below.
BBC RADIO 4 INTERVIEW WITH HANNAH LOWE
Front Row, BBC Radio 4, Thursday 6 January 2022, 7.15pm
Hannah Lowe was interviewed on Front Row on 6 January. She was speaking about her Costa Poetry Award-winning third collection The Kids.
Hannah was speaking to Tom Sutcliffe about her book, starting with her approach to the sonnet form. They discussed some of the wider issues raised by the book, as well as her experience of teaching in an inner-city London sixth form. Hannah read her sonnets ‘The Only English Kid’ and ‘Étudier’, and Tom quoted a line from ‘Sonnet for the Punched Pocket’.
Listen here (Hannah features from 19:15).
VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH HANNAH LOWE
Beth McDonough in conversation with Costa Book of the Year 2022 poet, Hannah Lowe for DURA (Dundee University Review of the Arts), 23 February 2022
‘In a wide-ranging conversation, poet and reviewer, Beth McDonough, interviews Costa Book of the Year poet, Hannah Lowe for DURA and Imagined Spaces (www.imaginedspaces.uk) about her writing practices, about using the sonnet form, the American poets that she loves, the tension between the autobiographical and poetic form and language, and colonial history.’
In this video interview, Hannah Lowe was in conversation with Beth McDonough, who had reviewed The Kids online at DURA on 9 December 2021.
PODCAST AND RADIO INTERVIEWS WITH HANNAH LOWE
Phil Williams, Times Radio, 7-10pm, Tuesday 4 January 2022
Hannah Lowe was interviewed on Times Radio just after the announcement that her third collection The Kids had won the Costa Poetry Award. She spoke to Darryl Morris (standing in for Phil Williams) and Natalie Jamieson (co-host of the Bestsellers podcast) about her response to winning this prestigious award, and about her time spent teaching in an inner-city London sixth form college. She read her poem ‘The Art of Teaching II’.
Listen here (from 1:07:10)
The Jam podcast, City and Islington College, online 13 January 2022
Students of City and Islington College interviewed former CANDI teacher Hannah Lowe for their podcast The Jam. This was a very thoughtful conversation about teaching, learning and belonging, and fascinating to hear the students’ responses to Hannah's poems about her experience of teaching English literature in that college during the 2000s.
Read On, RNIB Connect Radio, Friday 21 January 2022, 1pm
Hannah Lowe was interviewed on Connect Radio, the UK radio station for blind and partially sighted people. She was speaking to presenter Red Szell about her Costa Poetry Award-winning third collection The Kids. They discussed the sonnet form as well as her experience of teaching and of being a student herself. Hannah read her poems ‘The Only English Kid’ and ‘John II’.
Hannah features from 21:20. Listen here.
PROFILE OF HANNAH LOWE ON WRITERSMOSAIC
WritersMosaic, online 5 January 2022
‘Hannah Lowe writes poems that shimmer with sleight of hand, inventiveness and insight.’ – WritersMosaic
A profile of Hannah Lowe features on the WritersMosaic website. This includes a piece that Hannah wrote (and narrated) about the background to her third collection The Kids, and a fascinating and wide-ranging 43-minute podcast of Hannah Lowe in conversation with Gabriel Gbadamosi about her work and background (her first two collections Chick and Chan are discussed from 37.41).
Read the profile here.
T S ELIOT PRIZE READINGS ON RADIO 3'S THE VERB
Extracts from the T S Eliot Prize Readings were broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb on 14 January 2022, re-ordered and re-introduced by presenter Ian McMillan, who also hosted the T S Eliot Prize Readings at London’s Southbank Centre on 9 January. Hannah Lowe read in person at the T S Eliot Prize Readings, where Ian McMillan introduced her by saying ‘Hannah Lowe’s book The Kids is a wonderful celebration of that life-changing and life-affirming dance that teaching can be.’
On The Verb, recordings were played of Hannah reading her poems ‘The Art of Teaching II’ and ‘Pink Hummingbird’. Poet Ruth Padel read a selection of Selima Hill’s poems to the Royal Festival Hall audience, and some of these were played on The Verb. Host Ian McMillan also read one of Selima’s poems on the programme.
Hannah features in the intro and from 6:33. Selima Hill is introduced at 20:55. Listen here.
T S ELIOT PRIZE REVIEW COVERAGE IN THE TELEGRAPH
All ten titles shortlisted for the 2021 T S Eliot Prize were reviewed by Tristram Fane Saunders in The Telegraph of 8 January 2022 ahead of the T S Eliot Prize Readings and Award Ceremony of 9 and 10 January. Read here.
'The first half of Hannah Lowe’s sonnet sequence The Kids is an affectionate portrait of her time teaching a class of struggling students (“Each page we read is a step up a mountain/ in gluey boots”). The second reflects on family and her own schooldays, with memorable lines on messy adolescent desire: there’s a boy whose “voice was like a shirt unbuttoning”. Lowe’s social conscience, grounded register and frank humanity recall Tony Harrison...' - Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph
T S ELIOT PRIZE REVIEW COVERAGE ON BACKLISTED PODCAST
Both The Kids and Selima Hill's Men Who Feed Pigeons, both shortlisted for the 2021 T S Eliot Prize, were discussed in detail and recommended by Andy Miller on the Backlisted podcast of 10 January 2022. Andy read Hannah Lowe’s sonnets‘The Sixth-form Theatre Trip’, ‘Pepys’ and ‘Sonnet for Rosie’.
‘It’s a really lovely collection, and it’s written in the form of sonnets… it’s very accessible and moving.’ – Andy Miller, Backlisted podcast, recommending The Kids
The Kids is discussed from 7.07 and Men Who Feed Pigeons from 27:54. Listen here.
POETRY BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2021
‘Hannah Lowe’s The Kids, inspired by her time teaching in an inner London sixth form, is a series of sonnets full of joy. The book is generous in its compassion, and in love with the idea of learning, in the classroom and outside it.’ – Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian (Best poetry books of 2021)
'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.
DURA (Dundee University Review of the Arts), online 6 December 2021
'Chick was a hard act to follow. In this painfully aware, complex and very dynamic collection, Hannah Lowe has more than succeeded. Anyone entering teaching would do well to read it. As would everyone else.' - Beth McDonough, DURA, on The Kids
Read in full here.
The Friday Poem, online Friday 21 January 2022
An excellent in-depth review of Hannah Lowe’s third collection The Kids featured on The Friday Poem on 21 January 2022.
‘Lowe’s skill at working with traditional forms has been strongly in evidence from her debut collection Chick onwards. She has an easy, conversational take on the iambic pentameter line, and is skilled at finding both full and slant rhymes that don’t come across as forced. This results in poems that feel contemporary, yet still have a sense of the language being heightened into song.’ – Alan Buckley, The Friday Poem
Read in full here.
London Grip, online 19 February 2022
Hannah Lowe’s third collection The Kids was given an excellent review in the international online cultural journal London Grip on 19 February 2022.
‘The poems in the collection maintain their momentum and strength until the end, gripping and enchanting the reader in a continuum of surprising scenes and deft lines. This award-winning collection deserves to be considered one of the best publications of the year.’ - Carla Scarano, London Grip
Read in full here.
HANNAH LOWE INTERVIEW ON BBC RADIO 3
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.
RADIO 4 APPEARANCES BY VIDYAN RAVINTHIRAN & HANNAH LOWE
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.
RADIO 4 EXTRA FEATURE WITH HANNAH LOWE
Borderliners, BBC Radio 4, first broadcast Sunday 30 June 2019, 4.30pm, rebroadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra, Sunday 9 January 2022, 12pm & 5pm
Hannah Lowe’s BBC Radio 4 feature Borderliners, first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2019, was rebroadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra on 9 January 2022, selected and introduced by poet Daljit Nagra for Poetry Extra.
This half-hour radio feature based on her long poem ‘Borderliners’ was introduced by Hannah Lowe and read by her together with Burt Caesar. It covers some of the territory explored in Hannah’s first two Bloodaxe collections Chan and Chick, which focused on the life and background of her Jamaican Chinese father – a professional gambler – who came to Britain from Kingston Jamaica in 1947 on the SS Ormonde. The poem ‘Borderliners’ was written especially for this feature, and is not included any of her three Bloodaxe collections.
‘Daljit Nagra selects 'Borderliners' featuring a poem by Hannah Lowe which explores the mysteries surrounding the lives of her Chinese Jamaican family. The term 'borderliner' was once a derogatory term for having mixed heritage. "Between 'bi-racial' and 'bounty,'" Hannah writes, "I find the label 'borderliner' which the dictionary tells me, means uncertain or debatable." Using this term and its troubling history as the basis for a new poetic form, the poem reflects on borders and borderlines, both physical and psychological. Drawing on half-memories and imagined images from her family history, Hannah Lowe re-creates moments from the lives of her Jamaican Chinese father who came to the UK by ship in 1947 and became a professional gambler, her Chinese grandfather who moved to Jamaica as a legacy of indentured labour in the Caribbean, and most elusive of all the mystery surrounding the life of her Jamaican grandmother of whom she has only one photograph.’
Available until 5.30am on 9 February 2022. Listen here.
T S ELIOT PRIZE FILMS
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]