Roger McGough stepped onto the scene with Brian Patten and Adrian Henri with their Mersey Sound anthology in 1967. Liverpool had become a creative whirlpool of music thanks to the Beatles, and poetry was suddenly pulled from the echelons of academia and inserted back into the street by this trio of poets. At least, that's how I see McGough's work, as poetry for the people.
This volume contains poems from his collections beginning with The Mersey Sound and ending with the 2002 collection Everyday Eclipses. There are also 6 previously unpublished poems.
Nothing is too small or simple for McGough's poetry to touch, and no more is this dedication to the ordinary and everyday clearer than in the eponymous poem Everyday Eclipses:
The hamburger flipped across the face of the bun
The Frisbee winning the race against its own shadow
McGough is not just a poet, but a trickster, a gambler, a joker, a juggler, a punner: there is no escape for the English language as words and phrases tumble and swing like acts in a circus. The results are often laugh out loud funny, like clowns for the sake of sheer fun; others will leave you fearful and gasping like the feats of the acrobats; and others still, like giants and bearded ladies, are just plain odd, ridiculous even.
If poetry is popular speech; the drunken words thrown around in pubs; you and I walking down the street: then Roger McGough is its voice, and this anthology one of its greatest collections.
Love Cycle (from Everyday Eclipses)
Up against the wall
Locked in passionate embrace
our two bicycles
I always did love Roger McGough. Saw him perform with Messrs Henri and Patten many years ago, and will be seeing him again at the Southbank Centre in June 2011! :) This is a great collected volume, demonstrating for perhaps the first time McGough's sheer versatility in handling almost any topic for any audience, and that the wit, drollery and deftness of touch for which he is famed often masks very acutely-observed comments on topics of great concern, spoken with depth of understanding rarely matched by allegedly weightier poets. For all the occasional silliness (including the many poems for children), there are tough nuggets of truth within McGough poets that stand out a mile.
For example, I have still never seen a poem describing the truth of relationships better than 'You & I'; 'Unlucky for Some', subtitled '13 voices from a woman's hostel in Soho, 1979', is as heart rending as any verse you will ever read; and McGough's legendary dissection of a 1960's Liverpool girl, 'Valerie' is scalpel-sharp, even in 2011. These are but three examples, though there is something everyone can appreciate within this fine collection. Warmly recommended to one and all. :)
on 11 November 2012
I decided to buy this anthology of poems when I heard Roger McGough on the radio just before the Olympics. He talked about his work and how he believed poetry shouldn't just be for the elite but should be accessible to the masses. This collection certainly is that and covers a period of 40 years. For poets who like to keep their feet on the ground and not in the clouds this book is an absolute gem. Funny, sad, poignant and still topical and relevant there's more than enough within for everyone.
A refreshing read. Poetry from unexpected angles. Everything you would expect from Roger McGough; funny, sad, serious but most of all, addictive reading. This is poetry which you can read when you really don't feel in the mood for reading poetry.
on 27 March 2013
This book was no surprise at all as I knew exactly what to expect and it really does deliver. Roger is funny and thought provoking and this book has something for everyone. If you don't want to, or don't have time to work your way through a novel, just dip in and out of this book and all your emotions will be touched.
I have more of Roger McGough's books and whilst there are overlaps, it doesn't matter at all to me. I've been reading his works since the 60s and was so lucky to get to a recital last week. What an amazing treat and I am now just waiting for his latest collection to be released in paperback.
on 10 October 2013
Roger McGough has a great talent ! His poetry entertains,observes,amuses and makes the reader think,The poems cover so many subjects and aspects of life.He takes you on a journey with each one, A fantastic book that can be delved into and enjoyed at leisure.