Roger Joseph McGough CBE (born 9 November 1937) is a well-known English performance poet. He presents the BBC Radio 4 programme Poetry Please and records voice-overs for commercials, as well as performing his own poetry regularly. He is a Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University and is a Vice President of the Poetry Society.
Life and work
Roger McGough was born in Litherland, Liverpool. He was a pupil at St Mary's College in Crosby with Laurie Taylor, future sociologist and criminologist, before going on to study French and Geography at the University of Hull at a time when Philip Larkin was the librarian there. Returning to Merseyside in the early 1960s, he worked as a French teacher and, with John Gorman, organised arts events. After meeting Mike McGear the trio formed The Scaffold, working the Edinburgh Festival until they signed to Parlophone records in 1966. The group scored several hit records, reaching number one in the UK Singles Chart in 1968 with their version of "Lily The Pink". McGough wrote the lyrics for many of the group's songs and also recorded the musical comedy/poetry album McGough and McGear.
McGough was also responsible for much of the humorous dialogue in The Beatles' animated film, Yellow Submarine, although he did not receive an on-screen credit. At about the same time a selection of his poems was published, along with work from Adrian Henri and Brian Patten, in a best-selling paperback volume of verse entitled The Mersey Sound, first published in 1967, revised in 1983 and again in 2007.
On 2 March 1978, McGough appeared in All You Need Is Cash, a mockumentary detailing the career of a Beatles-like group called The Rutles; McGough's introduction takes so long that he is only asked one question ("Did you know the Rutles?" to which McGough cheerfully responds "Oh yes") before the documentary is forced to move along to other events. In 1980 he recited a high-speed one-minute version of Longfellow's poem "The Wreck of the Hesperus", complete with sound effects, on the album "Miniatures" produced by Morgan Fisher. One of McGough's more unusual compositions was created in 1981, when he co-wrote an "electronic poem" called Now Press Return with the programmer Richard Warner for inclusion with the Welcome Tape of the BBC Micro home computer. Now Press Return incorporated several novel themes, including user-defined elements to the poem, lines which changed their order (and meaning) every few seconds, and text which wrote itself in a spiral around the screen.
McGough won a Cholmondeley Award in 1998, and was awarded the CBE in June 2004. He holds an honorary MA from Nene College of Further Education; was awarded an honorary degree from Roehampton University in 2006; as well as an honorary doctorate from the University of Liverpool on 3 July 2006. He was Fellow of Poetry at Loughborough University (1973-5) and Honorary Professor at Thames Valley University (1993).
- Summer with Monika 1967
- Watchwords Cape, 1969
- After The Merrymaking Cape, 1971
- Out of Sequence Turret Books, 1972
- Gig Cape, 1973
- Sporting Relations Eyre Methuen, 1974
- In the Glassroom Cape, 1976
- Mr Noselighter André Deutsch, 1976
- Frinck, A Life in the Day of, and Summer with Monika: Poems Joseph, 1978
- Holiday on Death Row Cape, 1979
- Unlucky for Some Bernard Stone, 1980
- Waving at Trains Cape, 1982
- Crocodile Puddles New Pyramid Press, 1984
- Melting into the Foreground Viking, 1986
- Noah's Ark Dinosaur, 1986
- Worry Toni Savage, 1987
- Counting by Numbers Viking Kestrel, 1989
- Selected Poems, 1967-1987 Cape, 1989
- You at the Back: Selected Poems, 1967-87 Cape, 1991
- Defying Gravity Viking, 1992
- Pen Pals: A New Poem Prospero Poets, 1994
- Ferens, the Gallery Cat Ferens Art Gallery, 1997
- Until I Met Dudley Frances Lincoln, 1997
- The Way Things Are Viking, 1999
- Dotty Inventions Francis Lincoln, 2002
- Everyday Eclipses Viking, 2002
- Collected Poems Viking, 2003
- That Awkward Age Penguin, 2009
- The Great Smile Robbery Viking Kestrel, 1982
- Sky in the Pie Viking Kestrel, 1983
- Nailing the Shadow Viking, 1987
- An Imaginary Menagerie Viking, 1988
- Helen Highwater Viking, 1989
- Pillow Talk Viking Kestrel, 1990
- The Lighthouse that Ran Away Bodley Head, 1991
- My Dad's a Fire-Eater Penguin, 1992
- Another Custard Pie Collins, 1993
- Lucky Viking, 1993
- The Magic Fountain Bodley Head, 1995
- Stinkers Ahoy! Viking, 1995
- The Kite and Caitlin Bodley Head, 1996
- Bad, Bad Cats Viking, 1997
- Good Enough to Eat Puffin, 2002
- Moonthief Kingfisher, 2002
- What on Earth? Puffin, 2002
- Slapstick Puffin 2008
- The Sound Collector
- Tartuffe (English adaptation of Molière's play)
- The Hypochondriac (English adaption of Molière's play)
- Said And Done Random House, 2005
- ^ The Poetry Society - accessed 24 July 2009
- ^ McGough reads 3 poems (audio)
- ^ a b Emma Brockes interview: Roger McGough The Guardian 14 November 2005
- ^ Philip Larkin biography, The University of Hull
- ^ The Beatles' Yellow Submarine Turns 30 "Edelmann is given credit for inventing the Blue Meanies to serve that role. In an interview, Edelmann added yet another to those who contributed to the film's script. He said, "There was never one script. We had about 20. Roger McGough was responsible for much of it." McGough was a Liverpool poet who was brought in to add a Liverpool flavor to the soundtrack. He was paid £500 for his work, but was not given screen credit." (Accessed 18 July 2008.)
- ^ Interview with Roger McGough about republication of Mersey Sound 40 years on
- ^ Miniatures
- ^ BBC
- ^ BBC [pdf]
- ^ CBE for Liverpool poet McGough BBC News 12 June 2004
- ^ "Honorands 1995-1999". The University of Northampton, Honorary & notable alunmi. The University of Northampton. http://www.northampton.ac.uk/info/20195/alumni/115/honorands-and-notable-alumni/3. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
- ^ "Roger McGough CBE FRSL". Roehampton University, London, Honorary Degrees 2006. Roehampton University. http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/about/honorary-degrees/2006/roger-mcgough.html. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
- ^ "Founding stars of Everyman Theatre honoured by University". University of Liverpool, Press Release. University of Liverpool. 30 June 2006. http://www.liv.ac.uk/news/press_releases/2006/06/honorary_graduates.htm. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
- ^ a b "McGOUGH, Roger". Who's Who 2010, A & C Black: 2010; online edn. Oxford University Press, December 2009; online October 2010. Nov 2009. http://www.ukwhoswho.com/view/article/oupww/whoswho/U25672.
- ^ Tartuffe, Roger McGough, Liverpool Playhouse
- ^ Guardian
- Roger McGough official website
- Profile and poems written and audio at Poetry Archive
- Roger McGough at Contemporary Writers
- Interview with Roger McGough about 40 years of the Mersey Poets
- BBC Radio 4 archive 4 October 1981 (Audio, 12 minutes). BBC profile.
- James Campbell, "A life in poetry: Roger McGough", The Guardian, 22 August 2009
- National Portrait gallery
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