Round About Candle Street

Dylan Thomas was just 17 when he wrote his famous radio play Under Milk Wood. In January 2019, we challenged young writers from Morpeth School and Ben Jonson Primary School to respond with their own recording.

The project was in partnership with BBC History to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the first broadcast of Under Milk Wood.(Candle Street montage)

The original poem explores the landscape and characters of a fictional fishing village in Wales. Our young writers wrote their own version, set in and around Bethnal Green and Mile End, using haikus, poetic monologues and dialogues to map out their local neighbourhoods.

Once complete, our writers worked with Robert Seatter, Head of BBC History and sound producers Jonathan Kempster and Kate Poland to record the poem and gain firsthand experience of how the BBC works with sound. In addition to the audio recording, photographer Jonathan Perugia set out to capture the scenes on the streets of Bethnal Green that the young people had written about.

Chapter One sets the scene of the poem with a eery description of a school that ‘isn’t breathing’, moving onto scenic descriptions of the ‘hazy indigo sky’ and finishes with the chaos of ‘a blur/ Of people speaking all at once’.

In Chapter Two, we meet some of the characters that call Bethnal Green and Mile End home. We come across a vegetarian fox, grumpy lollipop lady and ‘Ibby’ with his ‘purple rucksack’.

Chapter Three introduces us to a host of new inhabitants from the local Buttercup Man with his buttercup creams, to a selfie-taking baby and the smiling shop owner who always remembers your cousin’s favourite lollipop.

Fancy having a go with your students? We’ve uploaded a free teaching resource for teachers and youth workers, for young people wanting to write their own poetry of place and character.

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