'Beauty, dreams, books and art'

Special Episode - Latitude Festival 2019 - with Nadine Shah and Hannah Jane Walker
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featuring poems by Philip Larkin, Salena Godden, W. B. Yeats and Elizabeth Alexander



Poem as Friend to Nadine


What are days for?
Days are where we live. 
They come, they wake us 
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in: 
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor 
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

by Philip Larkin




Pessimism is for Lightweights 

Poem as Friend to Hannah

Think of those that marched this road before
And those that will march here in years to come
The road in shadow and the road in the sun
The road before us and the road all done
History is watching us and what will we become

This road is all flags and milestones
Immigrant blood and sweat and tears
Build this city, built this country
Made this road last all these years

This road is made of protest 
And those not permitted to vote 
And those that are still fighting to speak 
With a boot stamping on their throat

There is power and strength in optimism
To have faith and to stay true to you
Because if you can look in the mirror
And have belief and promise you
Will share wonder in living things
Beauty, dreams, books and art
Love your neighbour and be kind
And have an open heart

Then you're already winning at living
You speak up, you show up and stand tall
It's silence that is complicit
It's apathy that hurts us all

Pessimism is for lightweights
There is no straight white line
It's the bumps and curves and obstacles
That make this time yours and mine

Pessimism is for lightweights
This road was never easy and straight
And living is all about living alive and lively
And love will conquer hate.

by Salena Godden


In this special feature length episode, recorded live at Latitude Festival, Nadine Shah and Hannah Jane Walker talk about the poems that have been friends to them.

This is our first live show episode and features work by Philip Larkin, Elizabeth Alexander, Salena Godden and WB Yeats.

We had a brilliant time as part of The Listening Post at Latitude Festival 2019 and are delighted to be sharing it with you, through The Poetry Exchange Podcast. Discover more about Latitude and dates for next year's festival here:


Nadine and Hannah are in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Michael Shaeffer and Fiona Bennett. You can find out more about the brilliant work and art Nadine and Hannah create here:


Hannah reads the gift reading of 'Days' by Philip Larkin.

Nadine reads the gift reading of 'Pessimism is for Lightweights' by Salena Godden.

Discover more about Salena's work here: www.salenagodden.co.uk and find her collection, 'Pessimism is for Lightweights' here: www.roughtrade.com/gb/salena-godden/pessimism-is-for-lightweights

You can also find 'Ars Poetica #100: I Believe' by Elizabeth Alexander in her 'American Sublime' collection: www.graywolfpress.org/books/american-sublime and discover more about her work here: www.poets.org/poet/elizabeth-alexander


We talk to people about the poem that has been a friend to them.

In exchange we create a gift for them, a bespoke reading of their chosen poem inspired by the conversation. Our award-winning podcast shares these unique and powerful stories of connection with people across the world. 


We set up an intimate environment for these conversations at festivals, in arts, cultural and public spaces across the country. We also hold exchanges ‘long distance’. Our visitors come from all walks of life and we also feature well-known personalities such as Andrew Scott, Maxine Peake, Roy McFarlane and Paterson Joseph.