POET Adam Horovitz and fiddle player Becky Dellow have launched a new poetry and music podcast, The Thunder Mutters.

It marks the bicentennial of the release of John Clare’s first collection of poetry, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery, as well as the beginning of Clare’s fascination with folk tunes.

“We will be exploring the connections between music and poetry, concentrating for the first year of the podcast on Clare’s The Shepherd’s Calendar and on the tune books Clare gathered,” said Adam.

“Once a month, we will bring you the appropriate section of the calendar interspersed with relevant tunes that Clare himself collected and played, performed by Becky.”

“The tradition of fiddle playing in my family goes back at least five generations,” said Becky, “to my great-great grandfather Thomas Hampton, a fiddle player from Hereford. It was his hand-written tune manuscript book that inspired my PhD research.

“Adam and I have put together two live shows (one for the Laurie Lee centenary and one for his book of farming poems The Soil Never Sleeps), so when, in the course of my research into tune books I discovered that Clare had collected two, it seemed a natural fit to approach Adam about creating a podcast.”

Although the podcast’s title is taken from one of Clare’s poems, and has been set up to mark the 200th anniversary of his first publication, The Thunder Mutters will not concentrate solely on Clare. Episodes will be published fortnightly. The first came out last Friday and the next one is coming out on May 1.

And, in between monthly sections of The Shepherd’s Calendar, Horovitz and Dellow will present poetry by Blake, Keats, Hardy and more, alongside tunes of the period, which the poets may well have heard, or even played themselves.

“We won’t just be presenting poets and tunes from the 18th and 19th centuries, either,” said Adam.

“It is our intention to also invite living poets and musicians to respond to the work of the poems and tunes we present, at some point in the near future, once we have settled into our stride with the podcast. Music and poetry are among the very best ways of holding an on-going conversation with our ancestors and our descendants, and we are keen to find ways of furthering that conversation with The Thunder Mutters.”

The Thunder Mutters’ latest episode goes live on May 1, and new episodes will arrive fortnightly on your favoured podcast provider. Or subscribe direct from the RSS feed here: feeds.captivate.fm/the-thunder-mutters/