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English lecturer James Walker hosts a Radio 4 programme around Nottinghamshire Mining language and poetry

The programme will also feature Linguistics lecturer Natalie Braber discussing her ‘Pits, Props and Prose’ research project.

The remains of a Mining Site
Brinsley Colliery

This month, BA (Hons) English lecturer James Walker will be hosting the second episode of the Radio 4 series ‘Tongue and Talk: The Dialect Poets’. This episode will focus on the East Midlands, aiming to explore the language and legacy of ‘Pit talk’ and mining poetry. Having grown up in a mining village himself, James was particularly interested in the ways that poetry helped miners make sense of the danger, the regulations and the eventual erosion of the industry.

James will be discussing the dialect and poetry of Nottinghamshire miners, who wrote verses about their experiences underground. The programme will discuss poems that use Pit Talk, which is language used almost exclusively by miners and a key part of mining heritage. James has spent the last six months developing the episode, speaking to retired pitmen, musicians and a new generation of poets to explore how the underground life of a miner has inspired them to keep the heritage of the industry alive.

The programme also features interviews in the home of famous novelist and poet DH Lawrence, who grew up in the mining town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. As part of this segment, he meets historian and former miner David Amos and Associate Professor Natalie Braber, who is course leader of our BA (Hons) Linguistics course. They discuss Natalie’s research project ‘Pits, Props and Prose’, which focuses on the language of the industry and how this can be conveyed in literature. The project is part of Nottingham Trent University’s Global Heritage: Science, Management and Development research theme.

During the documentary listeners can expect to hear James translate the dialect and delve further into the reasons why miners turned to poetry, as well as discovering ways in which Pit Talk is being kept alive today. It will also cover Nottinghamshire dialect more widely, with input from local poet and editor of popular LeftLion magazine Bridie Squires giving a performance of her poem about the word ‘mardy’ as well as local beatboxer Young Motormouf performing his beat poem which incorporates local slang and mining dialect.

James told us: “The Radio 4 programme has given me the opportunity to revisit my childhood, to explore my love of dialect, and to promote some local poets who embody the true spirit of Nottingham culture. Let me know what you think using the hashtag #TalkandTongue”

The episode will air on Sunday 20th May at 4.30pm. More information can be found here:

Published on 16 May 2018
  • Category: Culture; School of Arts and Humanities