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Commonwealth Poetry Podcast

Gyles Brandreth & Aphra Brandreth

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Poetry from around the world! A fortnightly celebration of Poetry and The Commonwealth - where award winning podcaster Gyles Brandreth and his daughter Aphra visit each of the 56 countries of the Commonwealth, meeting poets, performers and people who love poetry and discovering new poems each episode.
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In this fortnight’s episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth’s journey around the Commonwealth takes them to Togo, a West African country with a 32 mile coastline along the Gulf of Guinea. Togo is one of the newest members of the Commonwealth having joined in 2022. Speaking with award winning poet and playwright Dr Patron Henekou they discover more about …
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet Tanzanian poet Neema Komba. Neema shares her poetry journey, from a terrible event that took place as a teenage girl in a hospital, to the point that she discovered poetry as a way to express herself, to becoming the co-founder of La Poetista, a platform for poets and other performing artists to showca…
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In this fortnight’s episode, join Gyles and Aphra Brandreth as they discover more about Kenya and its poetry. We hear from Njeri Wangari, a Kenyan poet and author, who is living in Nairobi, and has performed her poetry globally. She is one of the key contributors to a recently published poetry anthology called Across Borders – An anthology of new p…
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In this fortnight’s episode, join Gyles and Aphra Brandreth as they find out more about Botswana and its rich poetic traditions. Speaking to Barolong Seboni, a distinguished retired academic and poet. Barolong shares his fun and insightful translations of Botswanan proverbs, offering a window into the culture and poetry of the country. Poems this e…
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In this fortnight’s episode, Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet Baroness Dambisa Moyo who shares her story growing up in Zambia. Dambisa is an economist and author who has written books, including four New York Times Bestsellers. Dambisa was named in the list of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. Poems this episode include: Tiyen…
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In this fortnight’s episode, Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet Marion Bethel, an esteemed Bahamian poet and attorney. Bethel, renowned for her award-winning poetry collections like "Guanahani, My Love" and "Bougainvillea Ringplay," shares insights into her life, inspirations, and the vibrant cultural landscape of the Bahamas. As she delves into her po…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth speak to Tendai Shaba, a renowned Malawian poet and activist. Tendai shares how he has used poetry to campaign on issues including gender based violence, climate change and advocating for safe motherhood. Poems this episode include a poem in Chichewa language addressing a relationship that has ended; Oh God…
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Inspired to be a poet since the age of six when they saw the spoken word poet Adrian Green at the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts, Cyndi wrote their first spoken word poem nine years later. Since then, Cyndi has been a three-time NIFCA award winning poet who has represented Barbados in poetry slams and festivals in Africa, Europe, a…
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In this podcast episode, join hosts Gyles and Aphra Brandreth as they engage in a compelling conversation with Namibian poet Keamogetsi Joseph Molapong. Broadcasting from Windhoek, Namibia's capital, Keamogetsi, an activist-poet, sheds light on his passion for using poetry as a tool to amplify the voices of rural communities. Explore the challenges…
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In this fortnight’s episode, Gyles and Aphra Brandreth engage in a conversation with Philip Nanton, a writer and spoken word performer who was originally born in St Vincent and currently resides in Barbados. Philip shares his compelling story, breathes life into his poetry, and delves into his recent project — a biography on the overlooked Vincenti…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth celebrate young voices from across the Commonwealth featuring special guests, Ayesha Dharker, Joanna Lumley, Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar. We hear from the two young winners of the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, 17 year old Siddhi Deshmukh - the Senior Winner from India, and 13 year old Shreeya S…
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Gyles and Aphra Brandreth share some of their favourite seasonal poems in this special episode of the Commonwealth Poetry Podcast. Joined by staff and students from the University of Chester reading poems that remind them of Christmas, the Holidays and Home. This is the perfect episode to get you in the mood for the festive season wherever you are …
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In this special episode of the Commonwealth Poetry Podcast Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet Jaspreet Kaur, a spoken word artist, writer and teacher from East London. Jaspreet is committed to using writing and spoken word to tackle issues including mental health stigma, and in this episode she shares how poetry has helped her to overcome her own menta…
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This week Gyles and Aphra Brandreth’s journey takes them to Lesotho, a land locked, mountainous country in Africa. They speak to Rethabile Masilo, an award winning poet who is the author of four poetry collections: Things that are Silent (Pindrop Press, 2012), Waslap (The Onslaught Press, 2015), Letter to Country (Canopic, 2016) and Qoaling (The On…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet award winning Indian poet Sudeep Sen. Born and raised in New Delhi, Sudeep eloquently shares his formative influences growing up in a Bengali household steeped in poetry, literature, music, and dance. Describing poetry as ‘the oldest form of art’, Sudeep brings his art to life, reading a poem from his …
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet Joy Lawrence an educator, author of several books delving into the rich folklore and history of Antigua and Barbuda, and a talented poet. Joy's interest in her country's history was kindled when she discovered that Bethesda, her hometown, was home to the first slave school in the British West Indies. E…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet Apiorkor Seyiram Ashong-Abbey, a Ghanaian-American Poet, Author, Literary Critic, and Activist. Apiorkor shares her reflections on modern Ghana, speaking about her optimism her country, as well as her determination to speak out and explore important issues, particularly to elevate the global voices of …
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In this episode Gyles & Aphra Brandreth’s journey around the Commonwealth takes them to The Gambia where they meet poet, short story writer, biographer and critic Dr Tijan M. Sallah, described by critics as one of Africa’s most significant poets and writers. Tijan shares his story growing up in Sere Kunda, Gambia, and the influence his teachers had…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth explore the riches of the Welsh langue and Welsh poetry with author and British comedy award winner Sioned Wiliam. Sioned shares her story growing up in a Welsh speaking home, and her passion for the Welsh language and this beautiful country. Poems this episode include: My first love was a Plover by Twm Mor…
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In this episode Gyles & Aphra Brandreth meet Gladstone Ewart Franklin Solomon, a beekeeper living in Tobago, who shares his passion for bees and honey. Find about Bees for Development, a global charity which has helped some of the world’s poorest people become self-sufficient through beekeeping for over 30 years. With poems from poet Maria Bristol-…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth’s journey around the Commonwealth takes them to Singapore where they meet award winning poet and director of Poetry Festival Singapore, Eric Tinsay Valles. Painting a vivid picture of Singapore today, Eric recounts his personal journey of relocating to the city-state and delves into the thriving world of po…
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In this episode, Gyles and Aphra Brandreth explore the wonders of Bangladesh and its poetry with Mozammel Hossain KC. Mozammel shares his inspiring journey from a small village in Bangladesh to becoming the first Bengali-speaking Criminal lawyer in the UK to be appointed Queen’s Counsel. He showcases Bangladesh's rich literary heritage with heartfe…
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Gyles and Aphra Brandreth speak to Dominican poet Anella D Shillingford. Anella is a poet and educator, teaching English Literature and History to Dominican students. In this episode Anella describes how her love for poetry and the arts developed growing up in the small but vibrant country of Dominica. Anella has published collections of her poetry…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth’s journey of discovery leads them to South East Asia where they delve into the vibrant world of Malaysian poetry. Meeting with Bernice Chauly an award-winning Malaysian poet, novelist, educator, and former festival director, through heartfelt storytelling Bernice paints a vivid picture of her upbringing in …
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In a special episode of the Commonwealth Poetry Podcast, Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Speaker of the British House of Commons. Recorded from the Palace of Westminster, Sir Lindsay discusses his commitment to strengthen and renew the UK’s ties with the Commonwealth and British Overseas Territories. With a guest appearance fro…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth bring you a special episode celebrating Father’s Day. The father and daughter duo explore the origins of Father’s Day, and what it means to them. Remembering his own father, and his love of poetry, Gyles discusses the joy and benefits of learning poetry by heart. Poems this episode exploring fatherhood incl…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet Kendel Hippolyte an award winning poet, playwright, director and sporadic researcher into areas of Saint Lucian and Caribbean arts and culture. Kendel shares his love of St Lucia and its rich culture. Discussing the influence of poets including William Blake, who he describes as a poet who spans the po…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet Jamaica’s former poet laureate Lorna Goodison. Recalling her upbringing growing up in a busy home where different influences shaped her voice, she still remembers the poetry she learned by heart as a child, reciting Wordsworth’s I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud from memory. In 1986 she won The Commonwealth…
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In this episode Gyles & Aphra Brandreth find out more about Uganda, once described by Winston Churchill as the ‘Pearl of Africa’. Speaking with Patricia Kabuleeta, Minister Counsellor at the Uganda High Commission in London, she shares her experiences growing up during the struggles in Uganda. Sharing poems that talk about the impact of the covid p…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet Albertina Mac Donald the High Commissioner for Mozambique in the UK. Discovering more about Mozambique and sharing poems that explore its past. Poems this episode include: If you Want to Know Me by Noemia de Sousa read by Wilma Terresa Vieira; and Black Outcry by José Craveirinha, translated by Stephen…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth’s journey of discovery takes them to the Pacific to hear about Solomon Islands and its poetry. Meeting with the Honorary Consul for Solomon Islands in the UK, John Freeman, he shares his memories from his time spent there as a magistrate. On the islands there are at least 63 distinct languages spoken and Jo…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth are at the Riverside Studios in London meeting Urdu poet Dr Javaid Sheikh and his daughter Fatima. Describing Pakistan in just a minute, both Javaid and Fatima talk about Pakistan as it was when Dr Sheikh was growing up, and Pakistan for them both today. Discussing differing styles of poetry in Pakistan and…
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Did you know, there is a 1,000 km walkable path connecting the Commonwealth? In this week’s episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth go on a virtual walk to find out all about the work of the Commonwealth Walkway Trust. Speaking to the Trust’s CEO Jim Walker, and to Royal Biographer and trustee Hugo Vickers, together they share their stories of walking in…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet with H.E. Emmanuel Mallia, High Commissioner for Malta in the UK. Emmanuel Mallia talks about the part that poetry has played in his life, describing poetry as something that you feel inside. Discussing the poetry of Malta from the oldest known literary text in the Maltese language, a poem dating from …
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Join Gyles and Aphra Brandreth as they meet the Chief Executive of Oxam, Danny Sriskandarajah, who shares his story growing up on a small island in Sri Lanka. Recalling the happy memories of his childhood as well as the lasting impacts of the Sri Lanken civil war that would displace his family. Danny reads poems from the ancient Tamil text, Thiruku…
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Join Gyles & Aphra Brandreth as they venture to the west-central Pacific Ocean to explore the 4th smallest country in the world by land mass, and a country where the population is less than 12,000, Tuvalu. Speaking to the Honorary Consul General for Tuvalu in the UK, H.E. Dr Sir Iftikhar Ayaz, we learn about Tuvalu’s past and its future, in a count…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth’s journey around the Commonwealth takes them to New Zealand where they meet H. E. Bede Corry – the New Zealand High Commissioner to the UK at the time of recording and now the Ambassador to the USA. Meeting at the High Commission in London, he shares his love of New Zealand, and Literature, and discusses Ne…
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Start the new year with a special podcast episode recorded from the Blue Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace. In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet the young winners from across the Commonwealth of the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition. With special guest appearances from three of the ambassadors of the Royal Commonwealth Society: Geri …
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Join Gyles and Aphra Brandreth for a special Christmas episode with Baroness Floella Benjamin OM DBE. The Trinidadian born actress, presenter, broadcaster and parliamentarian, currently Chairs the Windrush Commemoration Committee and was recently awarded the Order of Merit. She has written over 30 books with her memoir ‘Coming To England’ now studi…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet Dr Theresa Muñoz a poet and researcher based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Winner of the Muriel Spark Centenary award, RLS Fellowship & Creative Scotland Project Grant, Theresa’s poems have appeared in journals across the Atlantic. Her debut collection Settle (Vagabond Voices, 2016), shortlisted for the Meli…
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In this episode Gyles & Aphra Brandreth travel to Nigeria to meet Ben Okri. The Booker Prize winning author is a poet, novelist, essayist, short story writer, anthologist, aphorist, and playwright. Ben was born in Minna in the North of Nigeria before moving to England as a young child. Together with his family, aged 7 years old, he returned to Nige…
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In this episode Gyles & Aphra Brandreth are joined by HRH The Duke of Kent, President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and Royal biographer Hugo Vickers, for a special recording to mark Remembrance Sunday. Speaking from York House in London they share war poems from across the Commonwealth to remember the contribution and sacrifice of the…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet Dr Farah Faizal the High Commissioner for the Republic of Maldives in the UK. Dr Faizal, who enjoys writing poetry herself and is the granddaughter of poets, discusses pioneering women in Maldivian poetry. In this episode she shares poems by one of the earliest female poets writing in the Dhivehi langu…
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In this episode Gyles & Aphra Brandreth travel to the Seychelles located in the Western Indian Ocean to meet dub poet Tony 'Raspyek' Joubert. Going by the stage name Raspyek, he shares his story and performs some of his poems including ‘Mr Johnson’ which he wrote as a young man about the boyfriend of an older girl he was in love with, ‘Money’ and ‘…
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In this episode Gyles & Aphra Brandreth travel to Kiribati, located in the central Pacific Ocean it is made up of 33 Coral islands, of which 20 are inhabited with a total population of just 115,000. We meet Rotee Walsh a traditional singer and dancer, and her husband Michael Walsh author of A History of Kiribati from the Earliest Times to the 40th …
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In this episode Gyles & Aphra Brandreth travel to Belize in Central America where they meet Felene Cayetano a Belizean, Garifuna, Librarian, Author, Mother, Screenwriter and Director. Describing Belize as “a place of love and joy and sunshine” she shares her passion for reading, for books, and for libraries. Poems this episode include: Dawn is a Fi…
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In this episode Gyles & Aphra Brandreth travel to Australia which is amongst the largest countries in the world and home to the world’s biggest coral system. They meet with the High Commissioner for Australia His Excellency George Brandis QC who shares his love for Australia as well as his love for poetry, reading two classic Australian poems. And …
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth meet award winning poet Grace Nichols, recipient of the 2021 Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. Meeting at her home in Lewes, East Sussex, Grace takes us on a journey to Guyana sharing stories of growing up in a small country village before moving to the capital George Town and eventually migrating to England. …
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In this episode Gyles & Aphra Brandreth travel to Cyprus – one of the sunniest islands in Europe. It has been written about and featured in literature over hundreds of years from Ancient Epic Poetry to Shakespeare. Our guest this episode is Dr Marios Psaras the Cultural Counsellor at the Cypriot High Commission who takes us on a journey discovering…
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In this episode Gyles and Aphra Brandreth's journey around the Commonwealth takes them to St Kitts & Nevis where they meet H.E. Dr Kevin Isaac, High Commissioner for St Kitts and Nevis and the current Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth Secretariat. Dr Isaac is also a published poet describing his poems as 'verbal photography' …
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