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Roger McGough - patron saint of poetry
A NEW book of poems by Roger McGough is always an exciting event and when last year’s As Far As I Know hit the nation’s bookshops it was a true cause for celebration.
Hilarious and surreal, he is a poet of many voices. Menace and melancholy there may be, but in each cleverly crafted piece there’s plenty of Mr McGough's characteristic wit and wordplay.
Born in 1937, Roger studied at the University of Hull before returning to his home city of Liverpool where, in the early 1960s, he became a part of the city's vibrant Mersey Beat scene. Roger, alongside Mike McCartney and John Gorman, formed the comic group The Scaffold, and in 1968 topped the UK charts with the lyrical legend, Lily the Pink. His poetry first reached a mass audience in the Penguin Modern Poets collection The Mersey Sound, which also included Adrian Henri and Brian Patten and went on to sell more than million copies, and he’s arguably the most famous of the Liverpool Poets.
Having a career that’s now waxed into its sixth decade is there anything the Poetry Please radio presenter has not yet done?
Actually there is - he’s never performed on the hallowed literary turf of the Wordsworth Trust.
However, all that will be remedied when the great man himself steps onto the poetic pulpit of St Oswald’s Church at Grasmere next Tuesday, October 8 (7.30pm) as part of the trust’s fortnightly poetry gatherings.
The trust’s literature officer, Andrew Forster, says that Roger has brought so many people to poetry through his books and performances.
“This is his first visit to Dove Cottage and it’s long been an aim of mine to have him read here,” explains Andrew. “I’m delighted we’ve finally managed it.”
Roger is one of Britain’s best-loved poets for both adults and children and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy describes him as the patron saint of poetry.
He was awarded his OBE for services to poetry in 1997, a CBE last year and he was recently honoured with the Freedom of the City of Liverpool.
Much travelled and translated, his poetry has gained increasing popularity, especially from its widespread use in schools. A prolific writer, he is twice winner of the Signal Award for best children’s poetry book and recipient of the Cholmondeley Award.
His autobiography Said And Done (Century) is definitely one to read and explores overnight fame with Lily The Pink, The Scaffold and Yellow Submarine, which he helped write for the Beatles, and his encounters with Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Marlon Brando, Allen Ginsberg, Pete McCarthy and Salman Rushdie, among others.
His unpretentious yet subtle poems are some of the cleverest you’ll come across .
For further information telephone 015394-35544.
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