sitting in the sky
little old lady
with a ball of fading light
and silvery needles
knitting the night.
Liverpudlian Roger McGough is one of Blighty`s best loved poets, broadcasters, playwrights and best loved just about everything else you care to paste on his wall. He`s known such interesting people on his travels through life; Marlon Brando, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and just about anyone who can string thoughts and words together that stand out from the usual run of things and have contributed towards what is perhaps pompously called “popular culture.”
Some of his poems are long and thin and some are short and thick, depending on his whereabouts and occupation at the time of conception; but all are well worth the read for being insightful, intriguing, entertaining, exhilarating and entirely without being pretentiously long winded and being in love with being in love with themselves……….In other words, his work hits the nail on the head with off-kilter, irreverent warmth, and thoughtful wit.
His latest collection of poems, As Far As I Know, was published last year at the age of 75 he`s not lost his edge…………
“With something like the Misanthrope you`re telling a story, you have to make the verses sing and be funny when necessary but you know where it ends. With poetry you don`t have that and each time you go and write you`re on your own with a pen and paper. There`s no past and no future and it`s only when you start that you begin to develop ideas, but you never know where it`s going to take you and you don`t know where the poem will end.”
Because of his Liverpudlian working class background he was never brought up to take himself or his poetry too seriously.
“There`s this idea that an audience is there to marvel at you and it`s all very tense, and I don`t like that. You`re not trying to be a perfectionist or out to show how smart you are. Poetry is fragile, it`s not something to be smug about……I`ve never been a firebrand, but I`ve always been serious about poetry and it`s power and at the same time I`ve always had the urge to finish with a funny line…….You`re brought up not to take yourself to seriously (in Liverpool) and be all highfalutin. I think it`s important to write what comes naturally and humour is a way of dealing with the darkness.”
Poetry has always been there, it matters, it`s important and there is still a vital need for artists to shrieve their soul if you like, because the best poetry always comes from deep within the heart and soul and is not manufactured like consumer goods on a mass production line.
“Ever since I`ve been writing poems they`ve been saying poetry is on it`s way out. I don`t think it, there`s still a need for it and there are some very good poets out there. It`s not the new rock`n`roll, it can`t be said it doesn`t want to be. But maybe we need it more than we realise in these noisy times.”
I cannot imagine a relevant, healthy, worthwhile life without poetry; the very best of it`s kind cuts straight to the chase and will remain within you until your last breath. You store up it`s words within your head as remembrances of an emotion, a place, a time or a person. The mediocre will float away on the waves of time like so much flotsam and jetsam and leave nothing behind like dreams you`ve already forgotten from the night before.
I give you Roger McGough “The patron saint of poetry.”