Bournemouth University

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‘The cold poetry of information’

26 May 2011

Image of the sea

Professor Seán Street’s poetry is set to music in remarkable performance to celebrate the Shipping Forecast.

Bournemouth University (BU) Professor of Radio, Seán Street, will have his published work performed to music next month in a concert celebrating 40 years of the Portsmouth Festival Choir.

The performance is a specially commissioned new work called ‘Shipping Forecast’, composed by Cecilia McDowall and intended to celebrate the poetry of this legendary daily broadcast.

The first movement features Professor Street’s poem by the same name, which powerfully describes the ‘cold poetry of information’ of the forecast.

Denis Nowlan the Network Manager of BBC Radio 4 said: “The Shipping Forecast is a peculiar broadcast institution in that, while essentially a list of technical data, it has won a place in the affections of a wide audience, many of whom never put to sea. As well as its practical value for marine safety, many have found a kind of poetry in the rhythmic evocation of distant seas, and lonely ships amid wind and fog.  The forecast has inspired numerous artists including Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy, Blur, Radiohead and, not least, Sean Street, a great champion of radio who is both a professor and a poet of the medium.  BBC Radio 4 is delighted that Portsmouth Cathedral Choir has commissioned Cecilia McDowall to compose this setting of Sean's work and I look forward to attending the first performance.”

Although now based in Bournemouth, Professor Street was born in Portsmouth and is the son of a Naval Office, so it’s remarkably fitting that his poetry should be performed in Portsmouth Cathedral, which is also known as the Cathedral of the Sea.

The concert takes place on Saturday 18 June at 7.30pm. Tickets are available via or Paula Bothwell on 01420 489316.

Cecilia McDowall and Professor Seán Street will be both be attending the concert, together with award-winning watercolourist and author Peter Collyer.

For more information please click here.

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