Roger McGough, who stands a chance of being voted Britain’s favourite poet, has another claim to fame. He was a member of the band, The Scaffold, that topped the BBC Top 20 chart with the hit single, Lily The Pink, in 1968. The trio also included Paul McCartney’s brother, Mike McGear (real name Mike McCartney), and John Gorman.
McGough is the curly-haired, bespectacled one who sings solo the the verse beginning “Jennifer Eccles had terrible freckles” at the end of the first minute in this video.
McGough, with fellow Liverpool poets Adrian Henri and Brian Patten, also wrote the biggest-selling collection of postwar English poems. Their Penguin anthology, The Mersey Sound, has sold more copies than any other postwar poetry collection, says the Guardian. First published in 1967, it has been reissued as a Penguin Modern Classic. I loved it at first sight and have written about it before (here and here).
Now McGough is one of the 30 poets BBC website visitors can vote for in the poll to choose Britain’s favourite poet. The shortlist prepared by a panel of judges includes:
The current poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, TS Eliot, WB Yeats, WH Auden, Dylan Thomas, Milton, John Donne, William Blake, Wordsworth, Byron, Keats, Tennyson, Browning, Kipling, Hopkins, Wilfred Owen, Philip Larkin, the Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, and the late poet laureates John Betjeman and Ted Hughes. (Visit the BBC Poetry Season site to read some of their poems.)
But not on the shortlist is the previous poet laureate Andrew Motion.
That’s only poetic justice, McGough might say.
He can’t forget the former poet laureate did not include him in The Penguin Book of British Contemporary Poetry, published in 1982.
McGough told the Guardian:
When Motion and Morrison edited the Penguin Book of British Poetry, we were totally omitted…Those years when Motion was editor of Poetry Review, and Craig Raine was poetry editor at Faber … I felt we were always in the position of having to defend ourselves. We got cheesed off at being referred to as small-town Mantovanis, or the pop brigade. I suppose because we didn’t do English at university, or because the poetry I was writing could be appreciated by my mother or my aunties. It came out of a sort of naivety.
By “we”, he meant the Liverpool poets: Adrian Henri, Brian Patten and himself.Continue reading “The enduring appeal of Roger McGough”