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Roger McGough Biography

(1937– ), The Mersey Sound, Watchwords, Holiday on Death Row, Waving at Trains, Defying Gravity, Lucky

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British poet, born in Liverpool, educated at the University of Hull. He was a teacher in Liverpool from 1960 to 1964. With work by Adrian Henri and Brian Patten, McGough's poetry was first published in The Mersey Sound (1967), which introduced the work of the three, collectively the Liverpool Poets, to a remarkably wide readership. He subsequently became a member of the recording group ‘The Scaffold’, for which he wrote lyrics. Collections of his verse include Watchwords (1969), Holiday on Death Row (1979), Waving at Trains (1982), Defying Gravity (1992), and Lucky (1993). The majority of his poems contain humorous elements, which range from the ingeniously surreal to the blatantly burlesque. His comic abilities are also employed for occasional poems of satirical social commentary and to establish an ironic detachment from the underlying seriousness of elegiac treatments of transience and human frailty. Selected Poems 1967–1987 (1989) was supplemented in 1991 by You at the Back, a further selected edition. He has also written numerous plays, which include Zones (1971) and Lifeswappers (1980), and several volumes of children's verse.

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