the life and times of a 3 piece band who set famous poems to music

LiTTLe MACHiNe - Response to article by Christopher James, Poetry News, p 5, Summer 2012

Poetry News, the newspaper of the Poetry Society, has a large potential audience of readers who might be interested in LiTTLe MACHiNe. However in the Summer edition they published an article by one Christopher James (coincidentally my Christian names) about how poetry should not be set to music, and could not be either, (dismissing in the process Homer, Donne, Shakespeare, Owen, Eliot etc etc). Usually I wouldn’t respond but with the launch of our new CD and the performances we have lined up in the Autumn I thought this email to the Editor, below, might get us into Poetry News and plenty of publicity too. He has not replied as yet, despite requesting readers to suggest ideas for articles, and though he might be on holiday more likely he is busy, (the Poetry Society is inefficient and under-staffed), or unsure how to respond, or arrogantly and silently dismissive - who knows.

For the attention of the Editor Poetry News Michael Sims, ref article Poetry News Summer 2012 p 5 - Christopher James/ Paul Muldoon LiTTLe MACHiNe’s musical settings of poems disprove the views of Chris James, though of course you have to hear them first to agree - see below for testimonials about this assertion, and information about the group, from the Poet Laureate and others. The quote from Carol Ann Duffy by Gillian Clarke says it all. (I also included a list of some of the gigs we are booked to do this year, showing that people want to hear how we release poems from the page, and a long piece called ‘Madam Life Revealed’ in which the three members of the group explained how and why we made the CD). We can say plenty about what we do and why .. but this would take more time than an email so: in response to the article, and your request for suggestions for articles (p2), how about an interview and/ or a review of our new CD which will be launched soon - I can get you an advanced copy? The title is ‘Madam Life’, which is also the first track, a setting of W.E.Henley’s great poem, ‘Madam Life’s A Piece In Bloom’. How about getting Chris James to do the review - or Simon Armitage, or Paul Muldoon, both of whom are into poems and music?!

Looking forward to hearing from you, please reply to

Regards, Chris Hardy

The most brilliant music and poetry band I’ve seen in decades.

Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate.

Little Machine’s sophisticated way with poetry made me fall in love with old favourites and new ones all over again. They sing, strum, get you tapping your feet, make you laugh and break your heart, every word sung clear as a bell. I swear the Bard himself has joined this band .. What I loved about the performance was the clarity of the words, and, as Carol Ann said to me, the poems not only sounded good but better for the music.

Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales.

  • 26 August 2012