Pompey Speak

Something for your diary on Sunday 24th – a programme on Radio 4 about the Portsmouth dialect, which is different to all others in the UK.

Poet Maggie Sawkins, winner of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, explores the language, dialect and poetry of her native Portsmouth in Hampshire.

Maggie meets fellow poets Denise Bennett and Liz Neal at the city’s Historic Dockyard, to ask whether the Pompey dialect has been relegated to the margins or is now moving into the modern mainstream. At Fratton Park, home of Portsmouth FC, she chats with George Marsh, former Poet in Residence, to find out how working with Pompey fans has inspired his poetry. From there, she heads to the roof of the iconic Square Tower in Old Portsmouth, the home of her own poetry and music club, Tongues & Grooves, to talk to Al Wright about his novel The Winch, set in a futuristic Portsmouth where people still use a version of the dialect.

Along the way, we hear from poet Jackson Davies about ‘sailor speak’, and Maggie investigates how dialect poetry can aid mental health. While graphic designer George Bodkin, from the art collective Pompey Banana Club, discusses how dialect has moved from street slang to being celebrated in various art forms around the city.

Other episodes in this series explore dialect and poetry in Hull, Liverpool and Cornwall.

A Made in Manchester production for BBC Radio 4 – aired at 16.30 on Sunday 24th July, and available from the following link afterwards.


You won’t hear me on it – I don’t write using Pompey dialect (apart from the odd word here and there), so didn’t respond to a request for writers for the programme – not saying I would have appeared in it if I had, (I’m not that arrogant!!!), but it’s much better for those who do write using it to be involved and get the exposure, much as I would love to appear on Radio 4 one day!

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