An interview with…Roger McGough

Originally studying French, Liverpool born poet Roger McGough has had a whirlwind career of music, poetry and the English language over the course of the past 45 years.

In the 1960’s Roger became friends with John Gorman, and along with Mike McGear (who changed his name from Mike McCartney so as not to capitalise on his brothers success), and they formed a comedy/poetry band called The Scaffold. The band played the Edinburgh Festival and were signed o Parlophone records in 1966. The group worked hard and eventually had a number 1 hit in 1968 with Lily The Pink.

In 1967 Roger had a selection of his poetry published in a bestselling poetry book The Mersey Sound, and from then on he has been very interested and excited by writing and performing poetry. To date Roger has had 28 poetry collections published, as well as 19 poetry collections for children, and he shows no sign of flagging yet, regularly performing his works to audiences.

As well as receiving a CBE in 1994, Roger has received numerous honorary MAs, degrees and doctorates from various universities around the country. He is currently a Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University and a Vice-President of the poetry society.

I spoke to Roger briefly and he answered a few of my questions:

Is writing poetry difficult or do you find it comes easy to you?

I find it easier to write poetry than prose. I think because of the rhythm and the fact that prose seems long-winded. That reminds me of school essays where information is deemed more important than imagination.

Who are your inspirations?

Poets like Adrian Mitchell, Christopher Logue, Charles Causely, Jacques Prevert, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Corso and Ferlinghetti.

You have had many books published, but you prefer to write for adults or children?

Usually I don’t have an audience other than myself when I begin a poem. Although if I’m engaged in writing a book of kid’s verse then my brain will settle into kid-mode.

What have been the highlights of your career?

I’ve had many highlights including singing a number one hit on Top of the Pops, being made a Freeman of the City, receiving a CBE, and witnessing the births of my four children.

Are there any parts of your career that you regret?

No big regrets I’m relieved to say. I was never wracked with ambition, so when things came my way I was grateful and surprised!

If you could have any other job in the world what would it be?

Possibly a job in the field of education and brain development.

What does the future have in store for you?

Another poem, another book!

Thanks very much.


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