This video features four short extracts of Basil Bunting reading from his long poem BRIGGFLATTS, from Peter Bell's film portrait, 'Basil Bunting: An introduction to the work of a poet', made by Northeast Films and first shown on Channel Four in 1982. The first two extracts here follow the sequence used in the film, not that of the poem itself; the second extract is the opening of the poem ('Brag, sweet tenor bull...'). Most of the ﬁlm was shot around Brigﬂatts meeting house near Sedbergh, Cumbria, and at Greystead Cottage in Northumberland’s Tarset valley, where Bunting lived from 1981 to 1984. The film is from the Arts Council England film collection, and is copyright Arts Council of Great Britain 1982. The whole film from which these extracts are taken is included with the Arts Council's permission on a DVD issued with the 2009 new Bloodaxe edition of BRIGGFLATTS (which also has a CD of an audio recording Bunting made of the whole of BRIGGFLATTS in 1967).
Basil Bunting (1900-85) is one of the most important British poets of the 20th century. Acknowledged since the 1930s as a major figure in Modernist poetry, first by Pound and Zukofsky and later by younger writers, the Northumbrian master poet had to wait over 30 years before his genius was finally recognised in Britain – in 1966, with the publication of BRIGGFLATTS. Bunting wrote that ‘Poetry, like music, is to be heard.’ His own readings of his own work are essential listening for a full appreciation of his highly musical poetry. As well as his own notes to the poem (and a posthumously published additional Note), the new edition includes his seminal essay on sound and meaning in poetry, ‘The Poet’s Point of View’ (1966), and other background material.