Pam Ayres/Poetry of Jazz – Poetry News Roundup December 29th

In our final news round-up of the week we bring you Pam Ayres – the Celebrity Mastermind contestant and the long-awaited release of “The Poetry of Jazz”.

Poet Helps Hedgehogs

Celebrity Mastermind aired their first round of the new series on 27th December this year, with guest stars Jack Ashton, Rich Hall, Guy Mowbray and the poet Pam Ayres.

Pitting their wits against questions from John Humphrys, the four contestants, following the format that has been running since the program first aired in 1972, had to answer general knowledge questions as well as questions on their chosen subject. Pam Ayres choose British wildlife as her subject; a topic she later admitted she hadn’t realised would be quite so varied. Other topics chosen were Iron Maiden, Ashes Cricket and Tennessee Williams.

Ms Ayes not only scored the best general knowledge round but also went on to win her episode. The reason for her chosen subject soon became clear as her £3000 winning are being donated to Oak and Furrows; a wildlife rescue centre in Blakehill near Cricklade. The centre cares for around 152 hedgehogs and is currently raising money so that it can remain open. The money won by Pam Ayres will be a huge help to the rescue centre putting it over half way to its £50,000 target.

Pam Ayres has been a patron of Oak and Furrows for several years and finds hedgehogs particularly fascinating. Her next book “The Last Hedgehog” which is due to be published in 2018, will see some of the proceeds being given to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

 “The Poetry of Jazz”

2018 will finally see the release of “The Poetry of Jazz” a collaboration between Philip Levine, National Poet Laureate and former Pulitzer Prize winner, and BenJamin Boone, the Jazz performer and composer.

This collaboration is expected to be a little different to previous ones between poets and musicians where the music is just played to the reading. Boone, who is currently working in Ghana as a Fulbright Scholar, feels that Levine’s poetry deserves something a little more special. The Poetry of jazz is a 14-track album that is due to be released in the spring, and is one of the last pieces of work that Levine was instrumental in before his death in 2015.

The poems on the album will range from “Gin” –  a humorous ode to alcohol – to the more sombre “The Feed the Lion” which is the writer’s reflection on the Detroit race riots.

“The Poetry of Jazz”, was originally a one-off performance that was put on for a local fundraiser, but the collaboration was so fruitful that it was decided to make a recording as well. In order to do justice to the poet and his poems Boone tracked down any recordings of the poet’s live poetry reading he could get his hands on, as well as all his works both published and unpublished. He wanted to be able to understand the melody in the words, so he could put them to music in a way which would do justice to the verse.

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