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The poetry of Australian Les Murray opens up a new world for Daniel Tammet, an autistic savant for whom words are filled with colour and numbers have become friends. "Belonging is something that other people decide for you," says the internationally acclaimed author Daniel Tammet, who is on the highly functional end of the autism spectrum. "I wanted desperately to belong when I was growing up." This feature is about the power of poetry. And about seeing the world differently from everyone around you. In Daniel's world, four is shy, six a little sad. Numbers and words come easy to him. And he never forgets - once, he recited 22154 digits of Pi from memory. On another occasion, he learned Icelandic in a week. We meet Daniel in Paris where he lives as an author, poet and translator. We hear about his early life in suburban London, about getting lost in his own mind while walking to school, trying to learn social skills as he would later learn a language. Then, one day, he stumbles across a book by the Australian poet Les Murray. It transforms his life. Les Murray's poetry gives him a language he understands. He recognises himself completely in Murray's words and sets about translating his poems into French. As a consequence, there's suddenly the possibility of the two poets meeting up, in person in Paris, when Les Murray asks Daniel to translate a poem about autism. Presented and produced by Martin Johnson A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.
A Brief History of Failure
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal," said Winston Churchill. The American satirist Joe Queenan thinks he might be wrong. In this archive hour follow up to his previous programmes on Blame, Shame, Anger and Irony, Queenan rails against the very idea of failure. His sharpest attack is reserved for the supposed romance of defeat. From Braveheart in Scotland via the heretic Cathars in France to the pretend soldiers in Virginia still re-enacting the American Civil War, Queenan explores whether there may be something noble about losing a war. "I'm in the south, at one of the many re-enactment battles of the American civil war that go on every year. Thousands have turned up to re-fight a war they lost. We don't do this in the north - it would be odd, and divisive, perhaps even inflammatory. But the memories of a conflict that took place over 150 years down here - they don't go away." This is the first of two archive programmes from Joe Queenan, with A Brief History of Lust coming next week. Failure features archive contributions from classics professor Edith Hall; historian Geoffrey Regan; writer Armando Iannucci; former political correspondent and Strictly star John Sergeant; plus music from Laura Marling, Viv Albertine of the Slits and rock and roll's greatest failure, John Otway. The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.
The writer Nicholas Royle is a passionate supporter of libraries and a devoted bibliophile. As a young man his passion for books was so strong, in fact, that some of the books he borrowed from libraries didn't manage to find their way back to their homes on the library shelves. Now, over three decades on, Nicholas is finally doing the right thing and returning the books to the places he first encountered them - Manchester, Paris and London - hoping to avoid any hefty fines in his attempt to straighten his accounts. Along the way he considers his evolving relationship with both books and libraries, meeting other writers such as Vahni Capildeo and Polar Bear to hear about books they have neglected to return because they loved them so much; he also speaks with others who would never dream of failing to take their books back, such as AL Kennedy. Nicholas also meets a successful journalist who went to the same school as him and was one of the last to borrow the novel before Nicholas himself took it on extended leave. Producer: Geoff Bird.
Tunes from the Trash
Just outside the Paraguayan capital city of Asuncion lies the town of Cateura. It's an impoverished settlement ranged along the banks of a stinking, polluted river, in the shadow of a giant landfill site. Many of its inhabitants scratch a living by reclaiming objects from the endless ocean of garbage to sell. Recycling of a kind. But for the last ten years the residents of Cateura have been part of a recycling project of a much sweeter sort. La Orquesta de Instrumentos Reciclados de Cateura -- the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura -- use materials from the landfill site to create musical instruments. An oil drum for a cello, a pipe for a flute, a tin can for a guitar. They've toured the world and recorded with the likes of Metallica. As the Orchestra leader Favio Chávez says, "The world sends us garbage. We send back music." The BBC's South America Correspondent Wyre Davies visits Cateura, meets Favio Chávez and other members of the Recycled Orchestra and learns how trash, and lives, are being transformed by music. Readings by: John Norton James Murphy-Johns Lila Smith Yahlini Smith Producer: Martin Williams For more information about the Recycled Orchestra: http://www.recycledorchestracateura.com/ The Recycled Orchestra have been the subject of a recent documentary film: http://www.landfillharmonicmovie.com/ And an illustrated children's book: http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/Adas-Violin/Susan-Hood/9781481430951.
Meet the Cyborgs
Frank Swain can hear Wi-Fi. Diagnosed with early deafness aged 25, Frank decided to turn his misfortune to his advantage by modifying his hearing aids to create a new sense. He documented the start of his journey three years ago on Radio 4 in 'Hack My Hearing'. Since then, Frank has worked with sound artist Daniel Jones to detect and sonify Wi-Fi connections around him. He joins a community around the world who are extending their experience beyond human limitations. In 'Meet the Cyborgs' Frank sets out to meet other people who are hacking their bodies. Neil Harbisson and Moon Rebus run The Cyborg Foundation in Barcelona, which welcomes like-minded body hackers from around the world. Their goal is not just to use or wear technology, but to re-engineer their bodies. Frank meets the creators of Cyborg Nest, a company promising to make anyone a cyborg. They have recently launched their first product - The North Sense - a computer chip anchored to body piercings in the chest, which vibrates when it faces north. "I'm a 51 year old bald guy, with no tattoos or piercings" says co-founder Scott Cohen. "This was never a place I thought I'd end up in. Everyone's talking about machine learning, but what we're trying to do is make our brains smarter." Of course, the marriage of technology and biology is commonplace in medicine, from pacemakers to IUDs. But now 'citizen hackers' are modifying their medical equipment to add new functions. Dana Lewis from Seattle has created her own 'artificial pancreas' to help manage her Type 1 diabetes and released the code online. But should limits be placed on self-experimentation? And will cybernetic implants eventually become as ubiquitous as smart phones? Features music composed for The North Sense by Andy Dragazis. Presenter: Frank Swain Producer: Michelle Martin.