How do you introduce a poet? by Graham Haldane

It was the LIHNN Christmas Study Day, Warrington, 8 December 2015. As chair of the LIHNN committee I was tasked with introducing the keynote speaker, the Manchester poet Mike Garry. How do you introduce a poet? Well, it’s a risky strategy, but here goes …

Mike Garry?
Introduce Mike Garry?
So where do I go
Where do I find out
What to know?
What’s the going rate What’s his fate
In the wikisphere?

But trust not in Wikipedia
Where he might have
Five wives
Six kids
And live in a houseboat
On the Thames
Leaving his Manc roots
For the stage
And the page
Of books
And blogs.

But its blogs and books 1
That catch my eye
As the picture unfolds
Of an MMU man 2
Trained in the ways of Dewey
And other library greats
Who branched out
Not to branch libraries
But to cascading leaves
Of poetry
On the page
On the stage
As often spoken
As written

Poetry in the park
With John Cooper Clarke 3
Poetry in the hall
(Carnegie, New York) 4
Poetry slams 5
And poetry jams
Down with the youth 6
Raising their game
Raising the stakes
Seeing the world around them
And seeing a better world beyond 7

The man who sees
The man who writes
The man who speaks
His words capture
The gangs of Manchester 8
The hidden corners
The unseen
His words
Open doors
Accompany scores
Of musicians
With Philip Glass 9
At the top of the class

And his mindful eye
Doesn’t just see
But stops
And acts
Spots a lad 10
On a bridge
Looking into the abyss
Word, arms, love
Draw him back

And in the aftermath 11
His shaking, shaken blog
Draws tears
Causes ripples
Brings floods of responses
From those who saw a hero
Or those who saw their own lives
In the depths
Of that height
On the edge

And now our hero
Returns to MMU
A regular guest
To speak to the best
Of the new crop
Of librarians
And teachers
And writers
And the varsity
Writes him a certificate 12
Not for his dodgy theology
Claiming ’God is a Manc’ 13
But for inspiring
New generations
To read and aspire.

So I give you Doctor Garry now
‘The Poet Laureate of the North’ 14
Manchester born and bred –
Before he returns to his bed
On that berth
On his boat on the Thames
With the five wives and six kids
Or whatever Wikipedia 15
Is saying and claiming today.

References – if you want to follow up and find out more

1. Blogs & books

2. First degree

3. John Cooper Clarke

4. Carnegie Hall

5. Poetry slams

6. Youth work & homework clubs

7. Education projects

8. Angels with Manky faces

9. Philip Glass

10. I’ve just stopped a guy …

11. Jordan is safe and well

12. Honorary degree

13. God is a Manc

14. Mike Garry’s website

15. There is currently no Wikipedia entry for Mike Garry, poet!

Some of the poems Mike shared at the Study Day

God is a Manc  (Video)

Signify: A poem for Miss McCoombe (Video)

St Anthony: an ode to Anthony H Wilson (Video)

Graham Haldane
Library & Knowledge Services Manager
East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
Learning Centre Library | Royal Blackburn Hospital | Haslingden Road | Blackburn | Lancashire | BB2 3HH


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