Thursday, 15 December 2011

Britain is a still a country for an old Liverpool poet called Roger McGough

Roger McGough, the 74 year old poet, is the new President if the 'Poetry Society'.

What you possibly didn't know about Roger, that he :

* was born in Litherland, Liverpool and studied French and Geography at the University of Hull at a time when the great English poet, Philip Larkin, was the librarian there.

* returned to Merseyside in the early 1960's, worked as a 'French' teacher, and with John Gorman and Mike McGear, the brother of Paul McCartney, formed the group 'The Scaffold' and produced 'Thank You Very Much' in 1967 :

* with 'Scaffold' reached 'Number 1' in the UK Singles Chart in 1968 with 'Lily The Pink', a modification of the older folk song, 'The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham'.

* had help with the song from Elton John and Graham Nash of 'The Hollies' who contributed with backing vocals and Jack Bruce of 'Cream' played the bass guitar.

* was also responsible for much of the humorous dialogue in The Beatles' animated film, 'Yellow Submarine', although did not receive an on-screen credit.

* published a selection of poems along with work from Adrian Henri and Brian Patten, entitled 'The Mersey Sound'.

* in 1978, appeared in the introduction to 'All You Need Is Cash', a mockumentary detailing the career of a Beatles-like group called The Rutles :

The film :

* in 1980 he recited a high-speed one-minute version of Longfellow's poem, 'The Wreck of the Hesperus' on the album 'Miniatures'.

* in 1981, co-wrote an electronic poem called 'Now Press Return' with the programmer Richard Warner for inclusion with the Welcome Tape of the BBC Micro home computer.

* is a folk hero in his native Liverpool, where many of his poems and a work of art he created from donated old doors are part of the new Pier Head Museum.

* was awarded a 'CBE' in recognition of his work in 2004, making him a 'Commander of the British Empire', which he no doubt accepted with some irony, since he commands nothing and the 'The Empire' has long since ceased to exist.

* has his recent poem, 'Roots' now surrounds the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, combining words, lines and images by London and Lincolnshire primary school children :

Like a poem around a tree
Like a freedom flag unfurled
A homeless refugee
I have travelled round the world

I remember slanted mountains with dusted white peaks
ivory snow and emerald green trees.
I remember the tickle going up my spine
when birds settled on my branches.
The soft footfall of a passing fox.

I remember the sweet smell of pine-scented smoke
wafting from chocolate log cabins.
I remember thinking that there will come a time soon
When I will no longer remember any of this:

A sickle moon
The scrunching sound of footsteps
A brutal saw chomping through my bark
and the snow slides off me like a silken robe.

The squabble of sea birds and an icy deck
the savagery of ropes and roller-coasting waves,
until eventually, the warm cuddle of sleep.

In a clearing in the concrete forest of a city
I rise to the noise of pigeons and car horns,
Of children laughing and crowds cheering.
With 500 white lights I am adorned. Am excited.
Crowned with a star. I am adored and delighted.

When the children leave and the music stops
And the lights and the words taken down
Unlike the tree I have put down roots
In London, my new home town

Lights, camera, action!
A switch is pulled
and I light up like an angel.

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