The Mighty Stream anthology on Radio & in The Guardian

The Mighty Stream anthology on Radio & in The Guardian


The Mighty Stream: Poems in Celebration of Martin Luther King, edited by Carolyn Forché & Jackie Kay, was launched in Newcastle on Saturday 11 November 2017 to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr King’s visit to Newcastle to receive an honorary degree in civil law at Newcastle University in 1967.

The launch took place in the very hall where Martin Luther King gave an electrifying extemporaneous address, speaking without notes, in which he said: ‘There are three urgent and indeed great problems that we face today…That is the problem of racism, the problem of poverty and the problem of war.’  As part of a city-wide fifty year anniversary and celebration, this anthology gathers poets from both sides of the Atlantic to address the challenges set out by Dr King.

The launch reading was preceded by a BBC Free Thinking discussion with the anthology’s co-editor Jackie Kay and poets Fred D’Aguiar and Major Jackson, who have poems in the book.  This discussion aired on Radio 3 on 14 November 2017.


The Guardian, Thursday 28 January 2021

The Mighty Stream: Poems in Celebration of Martin Luther King was included in Rishi Dastidar’s feature on poetry that inspires change.  The piece was commissioned following the global response to Amanda Gorman’s ‘The Hill We Climb’, the poem she wrote for Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021. Rishi Dastidar writes that her poem ‘was a potent reminder of the power of poetry to inspire change – within individuals, and then outwards, into communities and societies.’

‘The work of change can and often does feel lonely, which is why inspiration needs to be drawn from those who have made similar efforts before, such as can be found in the anthology The Mighty Stream: Poems in Celebration of Martin Luther King. Poets including Claudia Rankine, Grace Nichols, Sarah Howe and Imtiaz Dharker connect the dots between his words, and what we need to do to make a new world.’ - Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian

Read the full feature here.

Front Row, BBC Radio 4, Friday 10 November 2017, 7.15pm

Poet Fred D’Aguiar was interviewed on Radio 4’s Front Row about The Mighty Stream ahead of the anthology’s launch in Newcastle the following night.  Fred spoke and read one stanza from his long poem ‘Call & Response’, which is included in the anthology.  He read the whole of this poem at the launch reading.  Fred discussed King’s legacy and this new anthology with presenter Stig Abell.  Stig quoted from the speech Martin Luther King made when he was in Newcastle 50 years ago. 

‘This book is visionary… Carolyn Forché and Jackie Kay, the editors, did a great job of pulling together disparate voices, transatlantic voices, to show King as a global figure.  The book has got a lot of jewels in there and a wide spectrum of voices, so I do think that’s King’s legacy – his wide appeal.  I think he’d have loved the book.’ –Fred D’Aguiar, speaking on Radio 4’s Front Row

Click here to listen

Free Thinking: Martin Luther King, Poets and Political Protest, BBC Radio 3, Tuesday 14 November 2017, 10pm

Poets Jackie Kay, Fred D'Aguiar and Major Jackson joined Shahidha Bari to assess how well we've faced up to problems of racism, poverty and war outlined by Dr King when he visited Newcastle in 1967. The discussion was recorded just before the launch of The Mighty Stream anthology in Newcastle on 11 November.  Jackie Kay read a powerful poem by Toi Derricotte from the anthology, ‘On the Turning Up of Unidentified Black Female Corpses’.  Both the Free Thinking and Front Row presenters mentioned Benjamin Zephaniah’s poem ‘I Have a Scheme’, originally from his 1996 Bloodaxe collection Propa Propaganda, which provides a lighter note in the anthology.

Click here to listen to the discussion.

The launch was reviewed on Write Out Loud here, where there is a link to a video of the launch reading.  Poets Fred D'Aguiar, Imtiaz Dharker, Sarah Howe and Major Jackson read at the event, which was introduced by the anthology's co-editor Jackie Kay.


The launch events were part of Freedom City 2017, a city-wide programme across Newcastle marking the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King Jr receiving an honorary degree from Newcastle University.

[16 November 2017]

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