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Daljit Nagra becomes first Poet in Residence for Radio 4

Published 08/10/2015

Daljit Nagra has been made BBC Radio 4's first Poet in Residence
Daljit Nagra has been made BBC Radio 4's first Poet in Residence

BBC Radio 4 has appointed Daljit Nagra as its first Poet in Residence.

The announcement coincides with We British: An Epic In Poetry, today - a day of readings and conversations led by Andrew Marr to celebrate National Poetry Day.

Nagra's role, lasting two years, will see him curate a weekly programme on BBC Radio 4 Extra telling stories about 20th-century poetry and the BBC using the network's poetry archive. He will also be appearing on Radio 4 shows and social media platforms, while writing original work to commission.

He said: "It's an honour and a privilege to be given such a valuable platform as Poet in Residence at Radio 4. This position will, I am sure, inspire me to write new poetry that speaks of our complicated age.

"What excites me most is the chance to give exposure to my beloved art form of poetry; I will take part in discussions about the latest issues concerning poetry but most of all I am thrilled to be given the role of curator for the 90-year-old poetry archive at the BBC."

Gwyneth Williams, controller of Radio 4, added: "I'm thrilled to have a working poet of such distinction joining us as our Poet in Residence. Many will have read and appreciated Daljit's remaking of Dover Beach and his Ramayana. It is a pleasure to give him the freedom of Radio 4.

"I've always wanted a poet to root around in our extraordinary archive. Who knows what he will find and what will inspire him."

The son of Sikh immigrants from India who came to Britain in the late 1950s, Nagra writes poetry that relates to the experience of British-born Indians and often utilises "Punglish", the English spoken by Indian immigrants who have Punjabi as their first language. His current book, Ramayana, was shortlisted for the coveted TS Eliot Prize.

In addition to his new position, Nagra teaches English part-time at a secondary school in north London. He said that he had little awareness of poetry from his own local comprehensive school education but picked up a book of William Blake's work in a bookshop aged 19 and has not stopped reading poetry since.

Radio 4's We British sees Andrew Marr and some of Britian's best loved actors and poets - including Dominic West, Charles Dance, Fiona Shaw and Michael Rosen - weave their way around the Radio 4 schedule telling the story of Britain's history and identity through its poetry.

Listeners can hear the works of famous poets such as William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth and Christina Rossetti, as well as taking a few roads less travelled too with the poems of Anne Askew and Anne Bradstreet and anonymous medieval ballads.

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