Last year, we sat down with Simon Barnes - the prize-winning sports journalist, nature writer and Chair of 2020's Keats-Shelley Prize - to discuss our theme: Songbird. As well as marking the composition 200 years ago of PB Shelley’s To a Skylark and the publication in book form of John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale, our aim is to participate in wider political and artistic efforts to bring attention to our ever-escalating climate crisis.
We have now gathered all four episodes of the podcast into one place on Internet Archive. Listen, download and mainly enjoy here. Or simple listen below.
It's hard to think of anyone better qualified than Simon Barnes to explore both the literary resonances of this year's theme and the contemporary environmental issues surrounding 21st century songbirds.
Having begun his literary career writing about sport for The Times, Simon brought the same sharp-eyed powers of observation and sumptuous prose that once unravelled Wimbledon finals to capturing nature in general, and ornithology in particular.
It was a particular treat to hear Simon read a passage from The Meaning of Birds that pondered why songbirds held such fascination for Keats, Shelley and the other Romantics - not least John Clare, who Simon reckons was the best birder of the lot.
You can read more about and by Simon on his website: simonbarnesauthor.co.uk