Sunday, 20 December 2009

'The Bard of Liverpool' - an appreciation by Roger Stevens

Roger McGough is my favourite poet. There. I've said it. I have lots of favourite poets but he is my favouritist. Ever since I discovered him way back in the Summer of Love I've followed his career, laughed, cried, sighed and had my flabber ghasted at just how clever his poetry is. For me the best poetry must be easy to read but at the same time have something else – it must be clever or have some kind of emotional punch. And this is exactly what his poetry is all about. It’s also great fun.
In the mid 60s, in Liverpool, Roger McGough formed Scaffold along with Mike McGear - Paul McCartney’s brother, and John Gorman (the masked poet – if my memory serves me right). They played at the Edinburgh Festival and were given a recording contract by Parlophone in 1966. They had several minor chart hits but reached number one in the UK with Lily the Pink. Around that time he also wrote some of the dialogue (uncredited) for the Beatles’ animated film Yellow Submarine (one of my all-time favourite films).
I discovered him when, along with Liverpool poets Brian Patten and Adrian Henri, his poems appeared in The Penguin Modern Poets, a series of slim volumes published through the 60s highlighting the best of contemporary poetry. Each issue had three compatible poets and this edition, The Mersey Sound, was the only one to be given its own name. It went on to sell over half a million copies. An amazing achievement for a book of poems.
Now he is probably the best known poet around. Many people thought he should have been the new poet laureate. He writes great books for children, writes plays, pops up on TV, and hosts BBC Radio 4’s Poetry Please. He still performs around the country and he is great to see live. If he ever appears in your area I suggest you buy tickets and go.
What more can I say? I’m not allowed to post his poems here or I’d follow this with twenty or thirty of my favourites. For example A Potato Clock (a wonderful poem for children) and the eponymous The Way Things Are.
For more info, and to read one of his poems, check out this link



wastedpapiers said...

How strange that Roger McGough has banned you from posting any of his poems - was it something you said?

C.J.Duffy said...

The BASTARD! How dare he? Who does he think he is? Of course you can post his stuff here (damn his eyes) Go right ahead and do it as Michael says you can.