I spend most of today retouching the final draft of a one hour talk as part of The Poetry Society’s Under The Influence series. Also got my hair cut. One of the advantages of being self employed, though I work longer hours, it means I can get me hair cut at 11am. Script close enough to ready by 5.30pm I’m dressed sharp but relaxed, I get on my bike and heart in mouth, spin and curl myself into the heart of Soho.
The venue is a bijou low lit bar room upstairs at The Arts Theatre in Soho. It’s very boho chic, the space goes back to the days of John Osborne in the 1960’s. Couldn’t
have been a better choice of place to speak of Adrian Henri, Brian Patten and Roger McGough, the Liverpool Poets and in particular their book, The Mersey Sound.
It’s packed, the fan swirls from the ceiling and I begin what was meant to be an half hour
presentation lthat lasts fifty minutes, I started at 7.10 and finished at 8pm. I have always wanted to set this particular record straight and shall be cleaning up the text further But I did make a blooper. I quoted excerpts of the three authors. But I mixed one of them up reading from from Henri’s batman poem and attributing it to McGough. My presentation considered the Mersey Sound, the poets and 1967 and their influence upon me. The entire event was filmed by Babycow productions. After reading the excerpts the talk began proper. Here are the first couple of paragraphs
“…..Whereas received opinion states Two’s company threes a crowd in terms of the Liverpool poets, two’s company, three’s allowed. Under the Influence of Mersey Sound, How it came about and what the influence is, is some of what I would like to share this evening.
Who are your influences is one of those questions that a writer gets asked many times throughout his career. It’s not as dispiriting as When did you start writing or How Do you
get your inspiration or the dreaded What’s your favourite poem. Other connected questions are Are you famous? To which I will often reply the answer is in the question. In the fleeting light of present day celebrity culture Famous Poet is more an oxymoron than it ever was. And worst of all the question which sends a lightening rod of recognition right back to The Mersey Sound and The Liverpool Poets is yes but does it work on the page.
The questions asked of the Liverpool poets are unnervingly the same today as they were then. Which says as much about the critics as the poets. I have never been compared to any of them so it’s a pleasure to out myself as Under The Influence of The Liverpool Poets . The answer by the way, is yes it does work on the page. These men, are workers of the pen. They don’t shout it from the rooftops because they are too busy writing.”