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on 4 February 2013
Mr McGough's poetry in this book is touching, beautifully written and crafted. There is an eloquence to his considered use of words and the pathos in them. If you lover Roger McGough, buy this as a valuable addition to your collection. If you don't know his poetry, buy it anyway, you'll enjoy it.
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on 30 August 2012
Roger McGough's latest poetry collection 'As Far As I Know' is typically accessible, witty, nostalgic, linguistically playful, poignant, hilarious, candid, and at times unashamedly sentimental.

Starting with that final of these many listed and other attributes, the poem 'To Sentimentality' confronts this confessional frailty with charm and humour,

'Tears for the father giving away the bride
Tears for the snowman in the rain outside
Two Cs and a D and I'm bursting with pride'

McGough has always had the knack of wrapping the familiar and simple in pleasing rhyme, but also to make these everyday factors meaningful in their honest presentation and/or celebration.

The poem 'Window Gazing' is classically McGough: a sequence of poetic puns and imaginings, for example these 2 from 30,

'Haberdasher's window

Pulling our eyes
over the wool


Went window-shopping
Bought a sash, two casements
and a uPVC tilt & turn'

There is a similar treatment in the sequence of poems 'Indefinite Definitions' where the entire alphabet is used for more playful treatment,


A cute is sharp, knows all the angles
When it suits, is eager to please
In a tight corner, no angel
Will squeeze you, this one, by degrees'

and then there's the final poem sequence 'And So To Bed' where the playing with words [each poem making more sense in the context of the whole] is less of a game,

'Death Row Bed

The electric blanket
is still used in Nebraska
Tennessee and Alabama'

In further illustrating these typical poetic characteristics, here's McGough at his concrete best,

'Poem on the Underground

tu be

or not

tu be'

So this collection deals in and with the light and fluffy, but McGough also confronts weightier subjects like his own ageing and the realities of death, as he has in more recent publications. This gets an apparently personal if anonymous referencing in the following,


Out on the sunny patio, the Gro-bag.
Scattered on the compost, your ashes

Come spring, young shoots will rise
and the fruit, like church bells

ring from the vines. Tomatoes,
if not with the taste of you in them

at least, ripening with memory'

and is explored further and even more personally - but always with that wry tone that keeps its distance from despair - in the poem 'Beyond Compare' which employs the ruse of being instructions to a loved one about seeking a new love after his death, and is exemplified in these three stanzas,

'For you to find another leading man
would not be unreasonable, given your age
An understudy who has been biding his time
learning my lines below stage

But don't be rushed. Should he move in
take your time and find the space
To enlighten this Johnny-come-lately
so that from the start he knows his place

Put our wedding portrait on the bedside table
but don't make of it a shrine. Rugby shield
and team photos on the piano. Tennis cups?
One of our mixed doubles would be fine.'

That last line is the consummate McGough quip: toying with the ordinary to make such an everyday metaphor deliver a gentle but memorable punch. It is that very lightness of touch which seems so honestly effective.

The last poem I will refer to is 'Not for Me a Youngman's Death' which continues to pursue this theme, but is especially interesting as it revisits and rewrites McGough's 1960s poem 'Let Me Die a Youngman's Death', that original poem railing against old age and dying of that age and its consequences - most arguments again wrapped in comic illustrations, for example 'When I'm 73/and in constant good tumour' - ending with the two lines

'not a curtain drawn by angels borne
`what a nice way to go' death'

I won't print this latter version's punchline, but well over 40 years later, the perspective has changed and the hyperbolic bravado of a dramatic death is now much less appealing,

'Not a slow fade, razor-blade
bloodbath in the bath, death.
Jump under a train, Kurt Cobain
bullet in the brain, death'

Rest assured, in this collection McGough is typically joyously alive and kicking poetic sand in our faces, even if it is with an old man's sandals. This is a lovely collection of his latest poems.
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on 1 November 2012
Roger McGough's latest collection of poems continues with the themes he dealt with in his previous collection "That Awkward Age". Awareness of his own mortality, acceptance of his fate, reminiscences of childhood and his ever-magical play on words make for a safe harbour for the soul. As he puts it:
"Take comfort from this/ You have a book in your hand/Not a loaded gun or a parking fine."
McGough leaves us with this sense of comfort by never seeming to refer to the all-too-present menaces and anxieties of the modern world. But beware: he is not offering escape, merely a temporary refuge from our predicament.In the poem "Defence", he shows that he is fully aware of political matters. In the splendidly evocative poem about childhood "Another Time, Another Place", he shows his understanding of how childhood memory can deceive and disturb at the same time. His "intimations of mortality", to paraphrase Wordsworth, are shown at their most poignant in "Not for Me a Youngman's Death", which is a follow-up to his famous "Let Me Die a Young Man's Death". Roger now owns up to the fact that death is not so romantic after all and that of young men even less so:
"Not a gun in hand,in a far-off land,
IED at the roadside, death."
Yet, through his sad acceptance of the march of time, He can still make us smile, as seen in "And So to Bed", which shows the famous McGough wit to be as potent as ever.Go on, get some comfort and buy this book.
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on 2 December 2015
A brilliantly clever set of poems by Mr McGough...funny, thought provoking, invoking....keeps your mind alert with the twisting words and conundrums.....other poets seem to make you feel like you're being held back by your pony tail, not hurtling...but impeding progress
as you try to understand their work, not Mr McGough tho...his cleverly simplistic words leave you eagerly reading the book from cover to cover, wishing you had thought of those collections of sentences....wishing you were that clever..... highly HIGHLY recommended
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on 24 December 2012
I am so pleased I have this book , some of the poems are exquisite especially the one called Grandma and the angels
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VINE VOICEon 15 August 2013
I bought thus book for my wife and she likes it a lot - as I do too. Roger McGough is a very funny writer. You can read and re- read his material and enjoy it every time.
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on 11 May 2015
It made me feel like laughing. It made me feel like crying. I did neither because I was too busy thinking.

Brilliant, seriously stimulating poetry
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on 3 June 2014
RMcG at his entertaining best. Really enjoyed reading over and over again. Such accurate observations on life all presented in his great style.
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on 13 September 2013
Roger McGough's insightful and humorous skill is as strong as ever. Even the front cover (and the eponymous poem) have a poetic ambiguity!
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on 19 March 2013
always a favourite writer of mjne I find this material absolutely up to his usual quality. Such development over the years.
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