Wright, Ben Books

Dr. Ben Wright is Professor of English at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. He earned his Ph.D. from Anglia Polytechnic University in England. Dr. Wright previously taught with the University of Maryland’s European Division.

Poetry of Roger Mcgough
2006 0-7734-5909-X
The purpose of this book is to examine and evaluate the accessibility of McGough’s message to a wide, general readership, as well as appraising it by the most rigorous literary standards, and to challenge and answer the notion that his popularity and commercial success indicate lack of intellectual integrity. Rather than addressing his association with musical groups, or his appearances on stage, or television and radio performances, attention will be focused on publication and readings of his serious poetry, even in some of the children’s collections, but primarily in the more penetrating social satires such as Summer with Monika, Holiday on Death Row and more recently in Blazing Fruit, The Way Things Are, and Everyday Eclipses.

As this book will become a form of critical biography, McGough’s accessibility will be considered in terms of his early education in Liverpool, and the influence of his socio-economic inheritance in the working-class environment, his study in a first-rate grammar school and then at a university. McGough learned to make himself heard and understood by all his English-speaking audiences, but he never lost the particular demotic flavor of the Liverpool manner and wit. His special talent has been an original use of poetic language, the inverted cliché, the ironic metaphoric trope and neologistic devices. This inimitable McGough voice is assayed in reference to the critical principles of Geoffrey Leech, Harold Bloom, Grahame Allen, T.S. Eliot, Victor Shklovsky, Grevel Lindop, and Michael Schmidt. The influence of American writers and musical genres, especially jazz and rock and roll, as well as the European Existentialist movement, are all considered in defining the basic components of McGough’s greatest asset, his accessibility. In writing this book, the author had privileged access to McGough’s private library and archives, as well as immediate response from him regarding any poems or works in progress, enabling the author to learn more about this poet and to write about many of the works as they were still in the generative stages. The poet himself has been especially accessible, and the topic, his poetics of accessibility, is presented in a most conscientious and thorough manner.

Since the publication of The Mersey Sound in 1967, the poetry of Roger McGough has remained popular and influential. This anthology of poetry has been the most successful in the history of Penguin Books, having sold over 750,000 copies. McGough’s work has been a part of the A Level examination curriculum for over thirty years and is to remain so until 2007. Penguin published the 418-page Collected Poems of McGough in November 2003, and the poet received the Doctorate of Literature from Hull University in January 2004.