Pick of the Day

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), May 17, 2009 | Go to article overview

Pick of the Day


Why Poetry Matters BBC2, 9pm

Griff Rhys Jones (right) fell in love with poetry as a schoolboy. Now, he's frolicking through 'a host of golden daffodils' in a bid to persuade the nation that, rather than being 'pansy and irrelevant', poetry matters.

Actually, we British are more enamoured of the rhyming couplet than we realise. Although many write off poetry as elitist and difficult to understand, it infiltrates our lives - from the hand-clapping games we play as children to the prayers that we recite at funerals.

We also have some of the best bards in the world: Shakespeare, Betjeman, Keats... the list goes on.

And it doesn't matter if these wordsmiths are dead because their verse transcends time.

Poetry can also help with anger issues, as grumpy Rhys Jones discovers when he visits a poetry doctor - poetry's elevated language is well known for easing heartache.

Which brings us to the popular image of poets as limp-wristed dandies, which is certainly not true in the case of DJ and poet Charlie Dark, who is more of a jeans and T-shirt type. And there's not a single billowing blouse at the bardic bearpit in London's Camden, home to contemporary 'slam' readings.

Other highlights of Rhys Jones's journey include getting commuters at the capital's Euston station to recite WH Auden's Night Mail and joining experimental poet Valerie Laws in a random poetry reading, which involves wind, water and words. Heady stuff. ****

Extraordinary People: Electric Human Five, 9pm

As Gary Numan asked, are friends electric? If you count Puerto Rico's Jose Marquez Ayala (above) among your acquaintances, then the answer is a resounding yes, as the TV repairman has a death-defying ability to physically absorb and omit high voltages of electricity that would kill most people.

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