‘Poetry keeps you young’ - these are the words of Roger McGough who will be bringing his unique style of poetry performed with music to Litfest 2019 this weekend in Lancaster.
Roger, who is 81-years-old, and lives in South West London, is the author of over 100 books of poetry for adults and children.His new collection of poetry called ‘joinedupwriting’ ‘explores the human experience in all its shades of light and dark ‘.
Some 50 years ago Roger started performing poetry off in Liverpool and met up with other poets. He said: “At that time there were lots of bands around and it was a short step to performing poetry with music. I worked with different bands as a sideline and it was nice to do. “I’ve worked with many musicians over the years , then I was coupled with Little Machine. Formed in 2009 Little Machine draw on three thousands years of poetry such as Shakespeare, Larkin, Byron and Eliot and set these classic poems to music.
Roger said: “I was very impressed with what they did. I don’t drive and they do so it’s quite handy when we do festivals etc. Each show is different , I read my poems from my new book and audiences seem to love it. “
Roger started writing poetry when he was a teenager and said: “I found I could do it and thought ‘that’s good, Ill do that’ but I didn’t see it as a career. I didn’t show my poetry to anybody at that time. When I started in Liverpool I got better at the performing sideof it.”
President of the Poetry Society, Roger has been honoured with a CBE for services to literature and the Freedom of the City of Liverpool. From Lily The Pink, the Aintree Iron, Scaffold, GRIMMS, The Mersey Sound with Adrian Henri & Brian Patten, Molière adaptations for English Touring Theatre and the long-running Poetry Please.
Roger said: “Poetry doesn’t have to be boring. There are a lot of young poets who are up and coming. In my new book my poems help yopu find yourself and it’s trying to make sense of the world. “It’s about Brexit and the state we are in, the dark and the light. A lot of the critics prefer poetry to be serious but I like poetry that makes people laugh. I’ve been to Lancaster many times and have performed at The Dukes, but mainly on my own, not with Little Machine. I always get nervous, you’ve always got new material and new poems to try out and you don’t know how they are going to go down.
“Being on tour is like a little adventure. I’ll only stop doing poetry when I haven’t got any new poems to read. “
Roger has continued to flourish in recent years and 2016 saw the release of a new album The Likes of Us with Little Machine, then in 2017 he embraced the 50th anniversary of the iconic & top-selling Penguin Modern Poets’ no.10 - The Mersey Sound by Adrian Henri, Roger McGough & Brian Patten – and the summer of ’67 epic poem of love & lust, broken promises and unfettered dreams, Summer With Monika, was republished and newly illustrated by Chris Riddell. Plus he did a host of country-wide dates with The Bootleg Beatles and the Royal
Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in It Was Fifty Years Ago Today which sold out the Royal Albert Hall in hours.
Roger’s significant birthday year also saw the publication of 80 - a selection of poems for children (Puffin).
Roger’s show with Little Machine on Saturday, March 30 at 7pm features a fine selection of vintage, classic and surprising poems set to music.
The event at the Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster University, is for ages 14 plus and is followed by a book signing.
Tickets can be purchased online via www.lancasterarts.org, in person at the Great Hall Booking office, The Great Hall Complex, Lancaster University or by phone on 01524 594151.
Picture by Nick Wright.