This page is an attempt to list the poets who appeared on John Peel's Night Ride programmes, from March 1968 to September 1969. It has been compiled with the help of Ken Garner's The Peel Sessions and various online sources, but the information given is incomplete, mainly because some of the writers featured on the programme are not well-known to the general literary public. During the 1960s, their work appeared in "little magazines", and in limited editions produced by small, specialist publishing houses, or was sometimes even self-published.

By 1965 the new poetry movement had become big enough to fill the Albert Hall; the "International Poetry Incarnation" reading held there drew 7.000 people and was an early manifestation of what soon became the UK underground culture. Some poets with connections to the scene gained contracts with major publishers and enough of a following to appear on radio and TV. In March 1967 the BBC Third Programme broadcast "The New Sound", described as "An enquiry into the current poetry-reading boom in England". The Radio Times preview of the programme noted that '"there has been an increasing concern among younger poets with the platform rather than the page. Audiences for poetry readings have grown bigger and become younger...." [1]. Many of the poets featured later read their work on Night Ride - as did programme producer George Macbeth.

As with punk music a decade later, regional identity became important, and an independent distribution network developed, aided by sympathetic bookshops in many British towns and cities. These bookshops also stocked the underground press, which encouraged the new poetry - in particular, the reviews by (Barry) Miles in International Times became influential. Peel would also recommend new books of poetry to his readers in his columns for the paper.

In later years Peel became more sceptical about Night Ride, saying that it featured "people reading bad poetry rather badly" [2], and it was true that some of the guest poets had little or no literary renown and soon faded into obscurity. However, despite the tendency among critics to see this era of British poetry as something separate from (and inferior to) the mainstream poetic tradition, it has been receiving increasing attention in the academic world recently, so anyone with additional information is invited to fill gaps and/or correct mistakes in these listings.

In fact, some Night Ride guests were far from obscure; Adrian Mitchell, Roger McGough, and Brian Patten were best-selling poets at the time and remained popular with readers and live audiences into the twenty-first century. Others were associated with the music scene (Pete Brown, Adrian Henri, Mike Evans, Marc Bolan) or the 1960s underground/counter-culture (Piero Heliczer, John Esam). Even a few established literary figures read their poems on Night Ride (Stevie Smith, Patric Dickinson, and Roy Fuller, at the time Professor of Poetry at Oxford University).

Information on the development of the 1960s British poetry scene can be found in Jonathon Green's Days In The Life (London 1988 and subsequent editions), along with vivid anecdotes from some of those involved.


March 1968

Recorded live album with folksinger/songwriter Leon Rosselson; A Laugh, A Song And A Hand Grenade (Transatlantic Records, 1970).
Friend and neighbour of Peel. Became member of Occasional Word Ensemble, recorded LP for Dandelion Records. He had edited the 1967 anthology, Love, love, love: The new love poetry (Corgi) and it's likely that he (and George Macbeth – see below) advised Peel on which poets to book for Night Ride.
Member of Scaffold. Peel met him and the other Liverpool poets in late 1967 and wrote about it in International Times. He was particularly impressed by McGough's "Summer With Monika"; "During the past year so much love and beauty has passed through me and lingered in my mind but nothing has surpassed this....." [3]
Leader of Liverpool Scene.

April 1968

Best known for his lyrics for Cream. Took part in poetry and jazz sessions before fronting bands of his own, the Poetry Band, the Battered Ornaments and Piblokto!
Friend of Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett.
When I was down in Cornwall this girl we took up with told us about this poet living in a hedge outside Aylesbury, and she gave us precise directions how to find him. And on the way up to London we went to Aylesbury, followed the directions, found the hedge, found signs of habitation, went to the local pub and discovered [Spike] Hawkins. (Johnny Byrne, quoted in Jonathon Green, Days In The Life, London 1988, p.19)

May 1968
Own website::
Became member of Grimms, but remains best known for his poetry and books for children.
Official website:
Born 1941, contributed poems to Liverpool Scene albums, but not primarily a poet. Evans played saxophone with Merseybeat band the Clayton Squares before joining the Liverpool Scene. Was later a music journalist and founded the Music Liberation Front in Liverpool, in order to campaign for musicians' rights and promote gigs. In 1971 he organised a concert at the city's Everyman Theatre in support of the Front, with Peel listed as host. Evans wrote to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who replied with a "letter of support"[4]; he made copies of it and handed them out at the concert (whose date is unknown at present). Evans became involved with the Musicians' Union and in 1977 was appointed as the Union's rock organiser. He held the post for seven years, organising "Rock Workshops" and trying to break down barriers between the Union and the rock and pop world.
Pioneer of Beat poetry in England and still active in his 80s. His admirers included Joe Strummer of the Clash and Damon Albarn of Blur.
Guardian obituary:
His poem "My Enemies Have Sweet Voices" was set to music by Al Stewart.

June 1968

English poet, botanist, and rock climber. The native of North London has published several collections of poetry. Houston, a research associate at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, has discovered several new species of whitebeam (Sorbus), one of which has been given her name. In addition to membership in several organisations related to botany,….(Read more at Wikipedia)
  • 12 June 1968: Roger Jones
  • Not much is known about him, beyond the fact that he was born in 1939 and poems by him appeared in Children of Albion: Poetry of the Underground in Britain,[1] an anthology edited by Michael Horovitz, published by Penguin Books in 1969, and featuring many of the poets who appeared on Night Ride. He also appears in Jonathon Green's Days In The Life (London 1988, pp 33-34) as one of a group of writers (Spike Hawkins, Thom Keyes, Johnny Byrne) who lived in a flat in Abbey Road in London in the early 1960s, organising poetry readings, publishing little magazines and living the beatnik life.
Parlophone EP 8765 - Logue and Kinsey - Red Bird (side one)

Parlophone EP 8765 - Logue and Kinsey - Red Bird (side one)

Guardian obituary:
Took part in pioneering poetry and jazz sessions for BBC Third Programme; collaborated with Donovan on song "Be Not Too Hard", and in 1967 TV programme praised by Peel on Radio London show of 01 July 1967; read from his work at the 1969 Isle Of Wight Festival. Was regular contributor to Private Eye and edited its Pseuds' Corner section, in which prose by Peel appeared a few times.
1968 (or 1969) documentary film:
Had own band, King Ida's Watch Chain, which performed at Middle Earth on night of police raid (3 March 1968), but never recorded. Later collaborated on various projects with Alan Hull of Lindisfarne, composer John Harle, Paul McCartney and Sting.

July 1968

  • 10 July 1968: Gillian Barron (also appears on some poetry programmes on Radio 3 but little online information available).

August 1968

Made several appearances on Night Ride, as musician, poet and studio guest.
Official website:

September 1968
Piero Heliczer (1937–1993) was an Italian-American poet, publisher, actor and filmmaker associated with the New American Cinema.…..Most of Heliczer's films were silent, with sound added later. In some cases he used live musicians to provide a soundtrack. One band, the Falling Spikes, who played for a Heliczer show called The Launching of the Dream Weapon in early 1965, later changed their name to the Velvet Underground. (Read more at Wikipedia.)

October 1968

David Macleod Black (born 8 November 1941) is a South African-born Scottish poet and psychoanalyst. He is author of six collections of poetry and is included in British Poetry since 1945, Emergency Kit (Faber), Wild Reckoning (Calouste Gulbenkian), Twentieth Century Scottish Poetry (Faber) and many other anthologies. As a psychoanalyst he has published many professional papers, an edited volume on psychoanalysis and religion, and a collection of essays relating to values and science. (Read more at Wikipedia.)

November 1968

Own website:
"The poet Barry MacSweeney....... was a boy wonder, in the Romantic tradition, who turned lyricism on its head and made it a very dark place to be.
"MacSweeney's debut The Boy from the Green Cabaret sold unusually well for a book written in the air of those unusual times. When its publishers, Hutchinsons, nominated him for the Chair in Poetry at Oxford, the 19 year old with three 'O' levels received three votes. It took half a lifetime for his reputation to recover......" (Read more at this appreciation.)

December 1968


January 1969

February 1969
Not just a poet, but an infuential figure at the BBC in this era - produced many poetry programmes for Third Programme and other BBC networks.

March 1969
Was Professor of Poetry at Oxford (1968-73), and in his published lectures on poetry was highly critical of the kind of pop poetry featured on Night Ride. Was also a friend of Anthony Powell, author of Peel's favourite literary work, the novel series A Dance To The Music Of Time.
Born 1927, died 1997. Not a poet, but wrote books on mysticism and psychology, and did the artwork for the sleeve of King Crimson's LP In The Wake Of Poseidon.

April 1969

  • 09 April 1969: Bob Wood - own website shows him to be folk singer, guitarist, but listed as poet in The Peel Sessions. In a news item on the folk page of Melody Maker of 23 August 1969, "poet Bob Wood" is among the guests scheduled to appear in September, at a monthly event organised by Clanfolk, the BBC folk club, "in aid of the Primitive Peoples Fund"[5]

May 1969

June 1969

  • 11 June 1969: Marc Bolan reading poetry
    Mark Bolan (T Rex) - The Winged Man with Eyes Downcast to the Moon

    Mark Bolan (T Rex) - The Winged Man with Eyes Downcast to the Moon.

    from his collection The Warlock Of Love
An 80th birthday tribute:

July 1969

Not the singer/guitarist who became a Peel favourite, nor the South African poet of the same name. This Michael (Mike) Chapman contributed a few pieces to International Times. In this one, he writes about his travels.
US poet (described on International Times's "What is happening?" listings page as "vagabond black poet from Selma, Alabama"[6]) on a reading tour of Britain; was interviewed in the same issue of IT, 13 June 1969[7]

August 1969

  • 06 August 1969: Iain Sinclair
    Iain Sinclair- At large in a 'fictional' Hackney

    Iain Sinclair- At large in a 'fictional' Hackney

Iain Sinclair FRSL (born 11 June 1943) is a Welsh writer and filmmaker. Much of his work is rooted in London, most recently within the influences of psychogeography..... His early work was mostly poetry, much of it published by his own small press, Albion Village Press. He was (and remains) closely connected with the British avant garde poetry scene of the 1960s and 1970s.........(Read more at Wikipedia.). Also befriended Dr Strangely Strange while studying at Trinity College, Dublin, and in 1969 made a short film with them, eventually issued on DVD as Strangelies In Dalston.

September 1969

See Also


  1. Fellow studio guests John Lennon and Yoko Ono both also recited poems during the show.
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