Neil Astley & Pamela Robertson-Pearce - In Person: 30 Poets (3 stars)

Neil Astley



Tucked inside the book of the same name comes a smart pair of DVDs which platform the depth and range which poetry publisher Bloodaxe have been offering us for three decades. In Person is a celebration of the intimacy that can make poetry great and also a confession that verse-reading has the capacity to be deathly dull. Filmed mainly within their own comfort zones, the 30 poets number the likes of Imtiaz Dharker, Helen Dunmore, Jackie Kay, Adrian Mitchell, Naomi Shihab Nye and Anne Stevenson, though there’s no one else on the discs with the fizz of Brummie-Jamaican creator Benjamin Zephaniah.

His tales of racial and gender politics are the most captivating stories on show and he is in possession of a style that is best described as compelling. In the often staid world of poetry, the likes of Zephaniah are a rare breed and with slamming on the rise, the sit-down poet may be a dinosaur of the past within the next 30 years.