Inspired by her long-distance friendship with Nasro, a young refugee living in a Kenyan camp, Warsan Shire has written and reads five poems about her and the experience of exile. The much admired Somali/British poet has become the laureate of displaced persons - her own family fled Somalia when she was very young.
Warsan Shire's first collection of poetry, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, established her reputation. Her contribution of poems to Beyoncé's 2016 visual album Lemonade, made her internationally famous.
Warsan gives very few interviews so we are delighted to feature some of her thoughts about writing, visiting Somalia, her own family and what poetry can achieve.
The poems for Nasro were written to accompany a film, Brave Girl Rising, that highlights the plight of young women refugees and the vital importance for them of education.
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4
Fifty years after Apollo astronauts first walked on the lunar surface, the world is heading back to make the Moon a new home.
“We left flags and footprints,” said the head of NASA Jim Bridenstine recently. “This time when we go, we’re going to go to stay.”
The United States has pledged to return by 2024 and NASA is building an orbiting space station near the Moon, called the Lunar Gateway, and is planning a field station as a base.
But the return to the Moon will be international. The European Space Agency (ESA), for instance, is building the service module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft - which will take humans to the Moon using its new giant SLS rocket. China aims to get its own astronauts on the Moon within the decade. Meanwhile ESA is constructing a lunar simulator facility in Cologne, Germany.
Space expert and TV science presenter Dallas Campbell hears from scientists at NASA, ESA and the German Aerospace Centre DLR who are working to make the practicalities of building a Moonbase reality.
Dallas meets those who are experimenting with solar ovens to build lunar bricks and one researcher who is making filters for human urine to produce fertiliser for crops on the Moon.
British astronaut Tim Peake discusses his recent lunar training underwater and Dallas travels to Bavaria to discover why current astronauts are training there for a lunar landing.
Producer: Sue Nelson
A Boffin Media production for BBC Radio 4
Deadliest Day – a new investigative series from Beyond Today
Claire Read introduces her special podcast series about the impact of one day of the British army’s war in Afghanistan on the troops who were there and the families they left behind.
Download the Deadliest Day series from the Beyond Today podcast.
The Unexpected History of Clean Eating
Guilty pleasures, cheeky treats – comedian Sofie Hagen asks why we put moral judgements onto the food we eat.
Clean eating is the diet of the moment. All over Instagram, people post photos of their beautiful plates of leafy vegetables and their artistically framed green smoothies – #plantpowered, #detox, #cleanlife.
Sofie Hagen is definitely not a clean eater. But she’s fascinated by the way it frames foods as “good”, “clean” and virtuous, and, by extension, other foods as “bad” or “dirty”.
This moralising around food doesn’t only exist in the world of clean eating. It pervades all sorts of diets - most of which Sofie tried between the ages of 8 and 22. And even if you’ve never dieted yourself, you’ve probably seen snacks marketed as “guilt free”, or considered having a “cheeky treat” for dessert.
This programme is not about whether a plate of lentils is healthier than a plate of pasta, or the nutritional content of a heritage tomato. It’s not even about whether you should try to eat more healthily. It’s asking how what we eat became so tied up with how “good” we are as people.
Sofie hears about the 19th century woman who didn’t eat or drink for five years, why eating soap was once considered a cure for corpulency, and how this might all have something to do with an apple in the Garden of Eden. She’ll talk to former clean eating evangelist Pixie Turner, eating disorder specialist Renee McGregor and advertising exec Rory Sutherland. Does sin sell?
Academic advisor: Jessica Hamel-Akre
Producer: Hannah Marshall
A 7digital production for BBC Radio 4
The Dying of the Ice: Olafur Eliasson
An audio elegy and a lament for the disappearing sea ice of the North Pole. The sound of ice melting, thawing and shifting across a year is the essence of this tone poem, woven with song, poetry, art and music about the ice.
This first of three programmes features Andrew McGibbon in conversation with Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson who transported Greenland-bred ancient ice blocks to the country's old colonial capital Copenhagen, in a project titled Ice Watch. The blocks were arranged to resemble an ominous clock showing the amount of ice that disappears every hundredth of a second due to conditions of global warming.
His Weather project became one of Tate Modern’s most successful installations – with over two million people visiting the exhibition, watching themselves reflected on a ceiling mirror while being bathed in artificial sunlight and doused in a sweetened atmosphere of humidified water and sugar.
The programme examines Olafur’s relationship with ice, growing up in Iceland and how Ice Watch - a piece that fused art, reality and environmentalism - brought worldwide attention to the rapid loss of the Greenland Ice Shelf.
In July 2019, a major survey of Olafur’s work is mounted at Tate Modern, including around 40 works spanning three decades.
The Dying of the Ice features the sounds of melting and retreating ice in the Arctic and the under-ice creatures living in that boundary as an active, low volume soundtrack audible throughout the programme.
Written and Presented by Andrew McGibbon
Producers: Louise Morris and Nick Romero
A Curtains For Radio production for BBC Radio 4