BBC Radio 4’s Today programme – PJ Harvey’s opening statement


When I was invited to be guest editor on Today, I saw it as an opportunity to try and do something unusual with the format and content of the programme.

I began by thinking of people I consider to be highly articulate, stimulating and extremely interesting to listen to – people who challenge us and move us to examine our deepest beliefs and feelings. I wanted to fill my programme with their voices.

Most importantly, I wanted to let them be heard in a manner of their choosing, whether that be a monologue, a poem, or interviewing others. What I didn’t want was for them to be restricted from saying what they wanted to say.

Before I accepted the invitation to be guest editor, I asked Today to agree to this, as well as agreeing not to edit my contributors pieces without their full consent.

I hope that the programme you hear, is the programme I wanted you to hear – I have come to realize that a great deal of its content is about censorship in one way or another.

As ideas for titles and topics to be discussed took shape, many poems and songs came into my mind. For me, music and poetry can be as persuasive and as powerful as a fine speaker and a fine speech. You will hear songs and poems supporting and highlighting the content of this programme.

I would like to thank my contributors for the time and care they have put into this project, and for the willing spirit with which they have entered into it.

As an artist, I try to make sense of the world through my work. I just try to get something down – look at it up close, from different angles. These people, these voices, help me make sense of it all.

PJ Harvey, 2 January 2014.