BBC Contains Strong Language comes to Cumbria

Luke Wright & Cobbler will be bringing their show to The Forum, Barrow, Saturday Sept 27, 8pm

The nation’s sharpest spoken word artists & poets will be focusing their word power on Cumbria this month.

In Wordsworth’s 250th year, the BBC’s annual poetry festival, Contains Strong Language will broadcast live from venues across Cumbria, September 25th-27th.

National treasures including Ian McMillan, Malika Booker, Helen Mort & Luke Wright will join a cast of powerful local voices including Barrow poet Kim Moore & Carlisle’s Jacob Polley.

The three-day programme starts at the heart of Romantic poetry, Dove Cottage in Grasmere with live broadcasts of BBC R4’s Front Row and R3’s The Verb.

Lockdown loo roll – DAYS OF LIVING SMALL – Tullie House will feature of display of lockdown poetry contributed to BBC Radio Cumbria and presented in dolls house sets

Then on Saturday BBC Radio Cumbria will be broadcasting from Tullie House, Carlisle with Gordon Swindlehurst alongside streamed events on BBC Arts online before travelling for another day of live events in The Forum, Barrow including a Radio 4 special with Luke Wright, discovering Barrow through its modern poets.

The festival is also supporting events taking place as part of the Kirkby Lonsdale Poetry Festival on Saturday, 26th.

Festival director Sue Roberts, the head of BBC Radio Drama Genre in Salford, says: “The festival started as part of Hull City of Culture but we wanted to bring it to Cumbria in Wordsworth’s 250th anniversary year. It’s a place that’s inspired so much of the nation’s best-loved verse and is full of talented poets.

“It’s been a tough year of Covid cancellations which has made us even more determined to deliver this celebration of poetry for authors and audiences.  Most events will be broadcast or streamed but we’re also bringing small, free, socially-distanced events to Tullie House & the Forum helping to support these important cultural venues as live performance comes back.”

BBC 1Xtra and the BBC Asian Network will also announce the winner of Words First in a streamed event from Tullie House, presenting the finalists of this nation-wide talent search for the UK’s best new spoken work artist.

New commissions premiering at the festival include Jacob Polley’s Emergency, an epic play set in Carlisle during the floods of January 2005. The raging storm is given a poetic voice as a human love story plays out with a soundtrack featuring local voices from the BBC Radio Cumbria archives. Morecambe Bay also plays a starring role in Bones by Ulverston author Zosia Wand, a story of a Polish mother confronting her teenage daughter as the perilous tide turns. Cumbrian artists Hannah Fox and Richard Berry have produced a dreamy film to accompany the radio play, featuring sweeping drone footage of the epic Bay, to be shown at The Forum, Barrow.

Coleridge’s unfinished work Christabel has been given new life by Kate Clanchy with beat boxing and a mysterious new lockdown housemate.  A small socially-distant audience will gather for an audio walk, listening to the drama whilst wandering the candlelit Tullie House garden by night.

The BBC Writers Room will also be joining the festival, with a webinar on getting scripts noticed and commissioned, and the announcement of the winner of this year’s script-writing bursary, the Alfred Bradley Bursary Award.

The full programme will be found at

The Tullie House garden will be open 10-4, Saturday Sept 26 with BBC Radio Cumbria broadcasting from 10 till 2 with improvised poetry to order from the poetry takeaway  11-12 and 2-3 from Jonathan Humble and the Dove Cottage Young Poets.  One-way access from the Castle St gate.

Arts – Cumbria Crack