Square Chapel, May 19
Roger McGough has been described as the ‘patron saint of poetry’ because he made poems not only accessible to the masses but fun and cheeky with his extraordinary wordplay, writes Paul Clarke.
Now in his 80th year the veteran Scouse poet is coming to Square Chapel Arts Centre on Saturday 19 May where he will read from his latest collection ‘As Far As I Know’, but he is also promising to unveil some new material too. Roger McGough has a long connection to the Calder Valley as a visiting tutor at the Lumb Bank writers retreat in Hebden Bridge.
“I’ve been going there for many, many years almost since it started off and I very much enjoy going up there and working,” says Roger. “I’ve run writing courses up there for the Arvon Foundation with other writers, and I was up there last year with another poet Rachel Rooney exploring children’s writing.
“I love going there as a tutor and walking to the graveyards that have connections to Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.”
Roger has published over 70 books of poetry for both adults and children, but he came to the public attention 50 years ago as one of the trailblazing Mersey Sound poets. He worked with the Beatles on their Yellow Submarine album and a meeting with Ted Hughes offered more inspiration.
“I did a reading with him and I’ve written a poem about him called What Ted Said after we had lunch and he had just had a book published,” recalls Roger. “He was slightly anxious about the reaction as he rather suspected some young critic would pull it to bits.
“I thought hang on you’re THE Ted Hughes and he was still worried about how his poems would be received.
“I probably expected someone more confident and it was reassuring that if he was worried about the reaction then it was alright for me to be too.”
Roger’s visits to Lumb Bank are not only a chance to meet like-minded writers but to use the time to think about his own work as even after 50 years as a poet he continues to write every day.
“The courses are great because you get to immerse yourself in poems and be with people who think poetry is important.
“Obviously being a poet is a singular sort of life so when you go somewhere where you are with people who have signed up for a course because poetry is very important to them I find that very reassuring.”
lTo book go to https://www.squarechapel.co.uk/whats-on/roger-mcgough-far-i-know/