Roger McGough – Thoughts of a Mouthy Poet

4 Feb

Recently I attended Roger McGough’s gig at the Nottingham Playhouse, following a Mouthy Poets session upstairs. Before the session, I had absolutely no idea who the man was, so it is with no bias of prior familiarity that I can express a great enjoyment of his performance. Before the gig, when he popped into Francesca Beard’s workshop to say hello, something about him gave a clue as to his being someone talented. Whether this was an aura or simply the effect of small round glasses, who knows? He recited for us ‘In case of fire’ as an example of a poem he might use to begin a gig, to start the night on a light note. Later that evening, he did just that, as I settled myself in the stalls of the Playhouse auditorium. It had the desired effect; my second experience of the poem that evening was now enhanced by a warm ripple of shared amusement through the gathered crowd.
The rest of the evening did not disappoint. McGough had a style wonderfully tempered between reflection and quiet amusement. It taught me something about poetry. Believe me, I didn’t go along looking for lessons, but it was one of those slowly growing, tingly realisations that creep up on you as you listen to someone else’s work; poetry can be funny and make you think at the same time. Now this doesn’t come across as a world-shattering revelation in the context of this blog but the moment that twigged it for me was in hearing McGough’s recital of his poem ‘As far as I know’. It comprised a series of reflections by the poet on things he had not done in his life, but was introduced as a comment on the recent cuts and the riots in England. It made complete sense. Having struggled to find a starting point whilst writing about the same topic recently, I saw where I’d been going wrong. It’s so easy when dealing with these big socio-political issues in poetry to shout the facts and the common indignation, leaving cliché only a hooded-teenage street corner away. But what McGough did was whisper, and it works. They say you should write from what you know but I suppose the revelation was that this doesn’t stop you thinking about things you don’t. The whisper can be louder than the shout and was, as Roger McGough reflected with quiet humour and poignancy on fatherhood and life, leaving the universe and everything largely unmentioned but very much there.

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6 Responses to “Roger McGough – Thoughts of a Mouthy Poet”

  1. em February 4, 2012 at 8:49 am #

    Beautifully put, thank you, but you don’t assign your name(?) Would be nice to know, and acknowledge the author of this piece.

    • mouthypoets February 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

      I agree, who is the mysterious poster?

  2. em February 4, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    okay, a generic mouthy poet – I guess!

  3. mouthypoets February 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    Many thanks. Matt M x

  4. mouthypoets February 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    This is an amazing review. Email it to me and I will send it to the playhouse marketing team to see if we can get it on their blog! Put some of this in your poetry module reflective piece too!!! Debs

    • Matt M February 13, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

      will do, glad you like it 🙂

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