Summer 2005


Summer 2005


Liverpool has had a long tradition of voices raised in song, poetry, protest and laughter, in many tongues Irish, African, Chinese and Indian, poets from Felicia Hemans Gerard Manley Hopkins and John Masefield to present day poets such as Elly Rees, Cath Nichols, Levi Tafari and Paul Farley – and these are just a tiny handful that compose the marvellous, soaring vibrancy of Liverpool, soon to become 2008 European City of Culture.
The rhythm is in the blood and the blood of Liverpool is the River Mersey. Home to sounds of the Merseybeat in the 60’s, 8 from 8 in the 80’s, home to football and pan scouse, ferries, soaring architecture that are jewels in the nation’s architectural crown and down to earth humour that warms the heart on a wet day, walking up Bold Street to visit one of the Cathedrals, joined at the hip by Hope Street.
The rocking riverbeat of the Mersey that swarms tidally past the City twice a day from the Irish Sea has been both a giver and sender of news, music, poetry and laughter to the rest of the world.
Go into a pub a stranger and come out a friend, being hugged and smiled at by a couple of young people who were thrilled to hear a New York and a Cumbrian praising their City, their home. It isn’t hard to get to the heart of understanding Scousers (I know, I’m married to one), ask them a question about their City and they’ll give you all they’ve got about Shanks, Lennon, fashion, politics and what it means to be a Liverpudlian.
The stone flight of the ever present guardian angels of the City, the Liver Birds, are a symbol of hope, rebirth and wanderlust – but the river will always bring back wandering folk from Liverpool, bringing with them new voices and energy from their travels, having taken with them a gritty sense of never being defeated in spirit that emulates the great American poets...such as Woody Guthrie, Jack Kerouac and Walt Whitman.
Three Liverpool Poets who were feted like pop stars and who are now, although Adrian Henri died a couple of years ago, still highly regarded are Brian Patten and Roger McGough who frequently perform in the UK and abroad.
But who was Royston Ellis? A plaque reflecting on the impact of this London poet to the 60s Liverpool scene still hangs today in Ye Cracke, John Lennon’s favourite drinking hole. Did he ‘discover’ the Beatles? Perhaps more importantly, what other young poets are still ‘out there’ writing, laughing, drinking, arguing, waiting to take centre stage – maybe this could happen in 2008?
Are there dreams soaring enough to help them fly above the City that bred them and grounded enough to talk to the ‘blood of the common people’ in language that is conversational yet philosophical, with the kind of positive spirit that fired Liverpool's greatest literary lights?
I believe there are. And what’s exciting about the next few years before the City really flies the flag around the world of culture, showing people what a truly vibrant, thriving place it is, is the discovery of hidden talent in pubs, universities, clubs, cafes, bookshops and schools that’ll really make Liverpool hum - and become the truly great City its people know it to be.


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