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Arts Richmond Annual Book Picnic by Greg Freeman

Arts Richmond

Richmond Green - 12 May 2019

Arts Richmond Annual Book Picnic by Greg Freeman

Sunday 19th May 2019 6:18 pm (first posted 17th May 2019)


Time was when Roger McGough was regarded as one of the voices of a new poetry generation. As one of the Liverpool Poets, with Brian Patten and Adrian Henri, he encouraged thousands to have the confidence to believe that they could write poetry, too.

These days the calm, soothing voice of the presenter of BBC Radio’s Poetry Please has something of the bedside manner of a trusted, if somewhat older, family doctor. But although McGough may have just eased into his 80s, he certainly doesn’t look it. Dressed in a bright blue boilersuit, he delivered an entertaining set based around his latest collection, joinedupwriting, at an Arts Richmond event to celebrate a poetry competition that he had judged – on the theme of Time. 

A poem called ‘The Cure for Ageing” begins: “There is no cure for ageing.” Commissioned by Age UK, it had its generally mature audience roaring with laughter. It is, in fact, a fabulously upbeat poem, containing spry advice such as: “Think yourself younger than you really are: / On a crowded bus or tube, offer your seat to a young man / Help a traffic warden across a busy road / Grow cannabis in the commode”.

Another, ‘The Living Proof’, offered more wise words: “The earth need not move, no call for / fanfares and fireworks. The perfect day / can be as ordinary as a stroll by the river, / as simple as the absence of bad news.”

The lunchtime marquee event, part of a bustling May fair on Richmond Green, had a carnival air at times, with the strains of a carousel hurdy-gurdy almost drowning out the more regular overhead refrain of Heathrow jets coming in to land. All this going on as we listened to a poem called ‘The Full English’, a pointed comment on immigration and heritage, even if it didn’t mention Brexit by name.

There was a lament, ‘I hear America Sighing’, after Walt Whitman, for what America has become: “Flags furled, insults hurled, banners waved in anger. / In Times Square the wind moans, and all around the sound / of groaning, the earth trembling as the screen fades to black. / Stop sighing, American, start singing. Time to come back.”  ………for full review https://www.writeoutloud.net/public/blogentry.php?blogentryid=90647 

The music of time: Roger McGough still welcomes us

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The Roger McGough Annual Poetry Prize 2020

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