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Poetry Readings by BBC Broadcasters Julian May and Katrina Porteous

Date: 12:00pm PST February 25, 2014 Location: Albany Quadrangle, Smith Hall

  • Julian May
    Julian May

Albany Quadrangle, Smith Hall

Julian May

Julian May is a poet and producer working for the BBC Radio Documentaries Unit. He grew up in Cornwall, went to university in Wales and has lived in China. He has travelled widely - from Greenland to Cape Town, California to Japan - to make programmes, often poetry features. 

He has worked with many of the major poets of our time, including Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy, Derek Walcott, Les Murray, Jackie Kay and Dana Gioia, and received several awards for his radio work (and one, an Eric Gregory Award, for his poetry).

His poetry has been published in several magazines including Poetry Review, Poetry Matters, The Spectator, Resurgence, PEN, Outposts, Acumen and Other Poetry, and he published one volume, The Earliest Memory (Peterloo Poets).


Katrina Porteous

Katrina Porteous was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and grew up in County Durham. She graduated from Trinity Hall, Cambridge, with a double first in History in 1982, studied at Berkeley and Harvard Universities in the USA on a Harkness Fellowship, and has lived in her grandparents’ house on the Northumberland coast, working as a freelance writer, since 1987.

Her poetry has won many national awards, including a Gregory Award (1989), an Arts Council Writer’s Bursary (1993) and an Arts Foundation Award (2003). As well as poetry in English, she occasionally writes in Northumbrian dialect. In 1999 she accompanied two Northumbrian shepherd-poets to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Nevada, U.S.A.

Katrina’s first major collection, The Lost Music (Bloodaxe 1996), concentrated on the Northumbrian fishing community. She has also explored this subject in prose in Beadnell - a History in Photographs (Northumberland County Library 1990), Beadnell Harbour 200th Anniversary (Harbour in Trouble 1998) and The Bonny Fisher Lad (People’s History 2003). Katrina’s other publications include a long dialect poem, The Wund anthe Wetter (with piper Chris Ormston, Iron Press 1999), Turning the Tide, a collaboration with two artists on the Durham coast (Easington 2001), Dunstanburgh (Smokestack 2004) and Longshore Drift (with artist James Dodds, Jardine Press 2005).

Katrina’s poetry is also included in many anthologies, most recently Tweed Rivers, new writing and art inspired by the rivers of the Tweed catchment, edited by Ken Cockburn and James Carter (Luath Press and platform projects, 2005). Katrina’s three-part poem about the River Tweed is accompanied by photographs by Susheila Jamieson.

Katrina Porteous is President of the Northumbrian Language Society.

Katrina is also one of Britain’s most exciting radio poets. Much of her innovative work has been produced by BBC documentary-maker Julian May, who describes her as ‘extending the boundaries of the genre’. Her radio poems include: Beach Ride (Radio 4 2001), An Ill Wind (Radio 3 2001), Longshore Drift (Radio 3 2003), Dunstanburgh (Radio 4 2004), The Refuge Box (Radio 3 ‘Between the Ears’ 2007) and Horse with Peter Zinovieff (2011). Katrina is President of the Northumbrian Language Society and an Ambassador for New Networks for Nature.

Two Countries, a new collection of poems, with a CD including recordings of some of her radio work, will be published by Bloodaxe in 2014.

‘Katrina Porteous, now being hailed as one of the most exciting talents of the North East: … a writer chronicling the life of the land through the stories of its marginalised people.’ (Alan Franks, The Times).