National Poetry Day – Readings at Liverpool Libraries

NATIONAL POETRY DAY 2006

Thursday 5th October – Identity: LIVERPOOL – City of Poets

North End Writers will read 10 poems in 5 Liverpool libraries in the north end of the city on Thursday starting at Fazakerley (10 am), then Walton (11.30 am), Breck Road (1 pm), Norris Green (2.30 pm) and Kensington (4 pm). These readings were designed as a celebration of many wonderful poets from Liverpool on a day that has taken Identity as its theme; also, for North End Writers, the readings had other purposes – to take poetry to people in the North of the city which, they believe, often misses out on cultural and creative opportunities and to raise some funds to help develop the work they are already doing, through sponsorship from friends and local businesses.

They read from the work of Felicia Hemans, John Tessimond, Adrian Henri, Roger McGough, Brian Patten, Deryn Rees Jones, Matt Simpson, Mohammad Khalil, Michael Murphy and Paul Farley. The reading concluded with a spoken version of the Beatles In My Life – performed as a love poem to the city itself.

Pauline Rowe, Co-ordinator, said – “We decided to start with one of the most parodied poems of all time, Felicia Hemans‘ Casabianca which opens: ‘The boy stood on the burning deck, whence all but he had fled..‘ Hemans was one of the best-selling lyric poets of the nineteenth century and she was born in Duke Street – whether we like it or not her writing reflects an imperialistic worldview which is part of the city’s story.“

The readings also included a poem by Birkenhead born John Tessimond (who died in 1962) whose work is being increasingly recognised for its originality and pathos – and the famous three – Roger McGough, Adrian Henri and Brian Patten – whose 1967 penguin anthology The Mersey Sound has been one of the best-selling poetry anthologies of all time. Pauline Rowe said: “There’s a shed load of snobbery about their contribution to the development of contemporary poetry – which we think is intolerable. Coming up to the city’s 800th birthday there should at least be some kind of permanent memorial to Adrian Henri (who died in 2001) – and Roger McGough and Brian Patten should be invited to key events and celebrations here because they are true cultural ambassadors for Merseyside.“

One of the most significant poems included in the readings, with the blessing of its author, is Muhammad Khalil’s Slavepool. Other poets included in the North End Writers line-up were Deryn Rees-Jones and Paul Farley (both recognised as New Generation poets by the Poetry Society) and Michael Murphy a writer and academic – whose collection Elsewhere was published by Shoestring Press in 2003.

Pauline Rowe said: “We’re also reading from the work of Matt Simpson and if Liverpool decided to have its own laureate it should be him – he writes movingly of his life and experience of the city and has done so with quiet brilliance for nearly 30 years.“

Currently North End Writers have writing groups based in Norris Green and Tuebrook, a Young Writers group in Old Swan and a writing team working on a community pantomime for 2007; for further information contact their Co-ordinator, Pauline Rowe, at northend.writers@btopenworld.com

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