Katrina Porteous on BBC Radio 4

Katrina Porteous on BBC Radio 4


Tongue and Talk: The Dialect Poets: Northumberland, BBC Radio 4, Sunday 27 May 2018, 4.30pm, repeated Saturday 2 June, 11.30pm

Poet and historian Katrina Porteous contributed to this programme about Northumbrian dialect poetry.  She spoke about honouring the language that is of this place, about her desire to record the dialect before it disappears, and about using the vitality and rhythms of the old Northumbrian accent in her work.

‘In the final episode of this three part series, children's author Kirsty Mckay offers a snapshot of dialect poetry in Northumberland today. When Kirsty returned home recently she was struck by how dialect and culture was being eroded by the encroachment of urbanisation and the influx of people moving into the area.  Here Kirsty rediscovers the dialect poetry by listening to old tapes recorded by her late father. She says: 'I found recording after recording of dialect poetry, often accompanied by local musicians, some recorded in late night lock-ins at local pubs or by the fire in the tiny cottage I'd known as a child.' Kirsty sets out on an exploration of identity and the future of the Northumbrian language in the poetry of the Cheviot hills.  Among the people she meets along the way are poet, musician and composer James Tait, retired shepherd Allan Wood and poet and historian Katrina Porteous. Kirsty also hears poetry from the children of Harbottle School and the entrants of The Morpeth Gathering.’

Click here to listen. Available on BBC iPlayer until 3 July 2018. Katrina interviewed from 10.18 & again at 19.20.


Open Country, BBC Radio 4, Thursday 7 September 2017, 3pm

Poet and historian Katrina Portous was a guest on Radio 4’s Open Country on 7 September.  She spoke about the history of Tughall Mill, and read an extract from her poem ‘Shanky’, which is included in her most recent Bloodaxe collection Two Countries.

‘Tughall Mill in Northumberland has just been bought by the National Trust for £1.5million so what do you get for that amount of money? Helen Mark gets an exclusive first look around the 200 acre site which includes a stretch of the coast which is home to a breeding colony of little terns - our second rarest seabird. She meets the rangers who've been camping on the shore for months protecting the terns from tides and predators - using an interesting array of defence methods. Beyond the shoreline lies a working farm and a mixture of pasture, woodland and the Long Nanny burn which the Trust is currently surveying to identify which species nest at the site.

The land used to belong to the Duke of Northumberland estates and is home to a historic mill. Esteemed poet Katrina Porteous lives nearby and has taken a keen interest in the buildings, along with Harry Beamish. They join Helen to explore the buildings while the Trust decides what might happen to them.

Click here to listen.  Katrina interviewed from 15.13.

Making History, BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 18 July 2017, 3.30pm

Poet and historian Katrina Porteous contributed to a discussion about Hadrian’s Wall on Radio 4’s Making History.  She read several extracts from her long poem about the Roman Wall, ‘This Far and No Further’.  This poem is included in her 2014 Bloodaxe title Two Countries.   The e-book edition of this includes audio of the radio version of this poem, which layers Katrina's reading of the poem with other voices, including those of the children of Haltwhistle First School performing the chants.  On Making History, Katrina read three extracts from the poem herself, and talked about the 'contested landscape' that surrounds the Wall.

‘Katrina Porteous reads extracts from her poem `This Far and No Further' which draws upon the voices and sounds of those living in the wall's shadow.’

Click here to listen.  (Roman Wall discussion starts 6.15; Katrina contributes at 10.13, 12.05 & 15.51 & clip used in intro.)

The Listeners, BBC Radio 4, 3-part series Tuesday 22 December 2015 to Tuesday 5 January 2016, 9pm

Poet Katrina Porteous was one of the professional listeners featured in this three-part radio series which aired on BBC Radio 4 from 22 December 2015. 

Katrina Porteous has spent much of her life in County Durham and Northumberland writing about the fishing communities and coastal landscape where she lives. 'A poem begins and ends in listening' she says. The first programme included an extract from Katrina's radio poem about Dunstanburgh Castle. The poem is included in full in Katrina's 2014 collection Two Countries

In the second programme Katrina discusses how listening to the soundscape of places has influenced her work.  In the third, Katrina describes sounds as "the heartbeat of a place". Episode 3 of The Listeners, which aired on 5 January 2016, was Pick of the Day in The Radio Times.

All three programmes are available to listen to on the BBC website.  Click here to listen.

[06 June 2018]

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