Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Listening to Leeds and the Poetry of the North

What a delight to be seeing and hearing more from Leeds, UK, where I was fortunate to be born, and to which I returned in 1990-3 to study for my doctorate in English Literature with Prof. David Fairer at the University of Leeds.

The most recent discovery was the John Betjeman film which was never broadcast. I suspect that the BBC did not consider that it could risk a strong regional angle at this time?

It's delightful to hear the Poet Laureate John Betjeman praising 'Nonconformist Leeds, sturdy and prickly'; delighting in the Victorian wonders of the city and bemoaning the monstrosities of modernity, most of which have now been wisely demolished. He appreciation of the city comes across and warm and sincere. He delights in the poverty and community of the back-to-back houses in Armley, and deplores the municipal planning that produced Seacroft town centre.

Whitelocks Bar, Leeds

The BBC has also recently broadcast a radio documentary celebrating Whitelock's Bar and the poetic life of the city and the University. They key role of the arts and music, based around the Leeds Polytechnic, is another topic worthy of further study and research. I guess one day the full story will be told, and Leeds will reclaim its cultural heritage and international presence.

The Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds

The University of Leeds

(c) Dr Ian McCormick

Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(Quibble Academic, 2013)

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