Music for Words, with Words

There’s someone in Sheffield who thinks he’s The Only Michael. He might be the only one who matters, and I certainly won’t contest that claim, though there are probably a billion of us who would say he’s not the only Michael—talk about overused names.

I discovered his postings on, probably via Mark Goodwin‘s group Air to Hear, about a year ago, when I first began to write for this blog, and have had it in mind to spread the word. (Now that I look back on his page, Music for Words, I find that I’ve favorited almost all his tracks. Beautiful work.) These are collaborations with poets.…I think I had it in mind to do a large article on poet/musician collaborations.

That was then, and I may or may not be able to follow up on those impulses.

He’s now doing something I find much more exciting: a radio program of music and poetry and interviews all on the subject of combining music and literature: Music for Words on Basic.FM.

I awoke to this:

(August 10, 2013. I’ve just noticed that Michael is not keeping his broadcasts on for long. Sorry. You’ll just need to check in with the other links. Again, here’s his page link.)

These are Michael’s stated goals:

“Music For Words with The Only Michael, is a monthly exploration of the recorded word and past and present collaborations between poets, story writers, musicians and composers.

“From the familiar to the strange, the missing link to the cutting edge, Music For Words showcases the many ways that speech and music can enhance and inspire each other to make something new, entertaining and compelling.”

I’m hoping he’s not inflexible in needing to present collaborations. There are some of us who are doing all of it, sound and word. (Actually, it’s possible he’s already strayed from that premise: I think Mark Goodwin’s piece is entirely self-produced.)

I also hope this first program isn’t too indicative of the tone of work he’ll be showcasing. It’s excellent. But it puts to mind why rock and roll sounded so exciting all those decades ago. I would like to hear something a little more open wound, a bit rougher around the edges. What I’ve been hearing, just on, runs from the pompous to the genteel to the timid to the mythical to the gutter or the totally common and familiar, as happens with both poetry and our own lives. I would like to hear a wider range of poetic voices introduced to this broadcast.

That having been said, all the work I’ve found on Music for Words at and everything in this broadcast keeps the poet’s voice at the forefront so you’re not struggling to hear what was said. Michael Harding himself has an excellent sense of combining his music with the writer’s words, complimenting and drawing out the emotive content.

The other suggestion I would make is that there be more notes to each broadcast when it’s posted on, such as clearly stating who the artists are and any links or purchasing information.

Michael, I await your next broadcast.