A series of events and exhibitions are to take place in Liverpool to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the most influential poetry anthologies of all time
To mark this special anniversary, Tonight At Noon (named after the first Adrian Henri poem in the collection) will shine a spotlight on this incredible piece of work which captured the mood of the Sixties and brought poetry down from the shelf to the street.
Forming a key part of Liverpool’s 67-17: 50 Summers of Love celebrations, Tonight At Noon is a festival in itself running from Wednesday 12 April to Saturday 15 July, and the events are:
The Mersey Sound Archives
An exhibition in Hornby Library, Liverpool Central Library – Wednesday 12 April to Saturday 15 July. FREE
A tribute to the publishing phenomenon which saw three Liverpool writers make poetry part of popular culture. They wrote of young love, pop idols, atomic bombs, eccentric bus conductors and sci-fi superheroes in poems that were contemporary, urban and accessible. This exhibition takes place in the stunning surroundings of the Hornby Library and will include displays of original manuscripts, posters, letters, key documents along with audio and visual material which trace the emergence of Adrian, Roger and Brian on the 1960s poetry scene.
Adrian Henri – Painter, Poet, Performer
An exhibition in Dickens and Gladstone Galleries, St George’s Hall – Wednesday 12 April to Saturday 15 July. FREE
Although he came to prominence as a poet in 1967, Adrian Henri was regarded as a ‘total artist’ having trained as a painter and exhibiting widely throughout his career. He also fronted the unlikely poetry-and-rock band Liverpool Scene, leading John Peel to dub him “one of the great non-singers of our time”. In 1969 the band supported Led Zeppelin, played the Isle of Wight Festival and toured America. This exhibition will showcase 1960s artworks, poems and original rock posters offering a glimpse into to Henri’s multi-faceted talents.
Poetry in the City
An anniversary treat at various locations, Thursday 25 May. FREE
To mark the exact day on which The Mersey Sound was first published, expect the city to be taken over by the words of the three poets as their work hits the streets once again. Full details will be revealed nearer the time.
Thurston Moore Concert
Concert Room, St George’s Hall – 8.30pm, Tuesday 30 May. £14 a ticket plus booking fee
Thurston Moore is best known for being the co-founder of legendary alternative rock group Sonic Youth. His use of unusual tunings and distorted sounds have had an impact on experimental and post-punk music the world over, and he has been ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Moore has collaborated with writers, musicians and artists as varied as Yoko Ono, William Burroughs, Merce Cunningham and Sean Lennon. He is also a poet and a fan of The Mersey Sound. Thurston is on a world tour to promote his latest album RocknRoll Consciousness, but he will stop off in Liverpool to perform a specially commissioned musical response to The Mersey Sound. Tickets are available from www.ticketquarter.co.uk/Online/thurston-moore.
Poetry reading at Bluecoat – 7.30pm, Friday 16 June. £10 a ticket
The impact of The Mersey Sound has resonated for decades for generations of writers and performers. Five poets have been commissioned to create new pieces of work in response to the writing of Henri, McGough and Patten. Taking part are award winning poets Paul Farley, Deryn Rees-Jones, Eleanor Rees, Lizzie Nunnery and Andrew McMillan. They will be joined onstage by Brian Patten and Roger McGough. Tickets are available from: www.thebluecoat.org.uk/content/tickets
Adrian’s partner, Catherine Marcangeli has curated all the Tonight At Noon events which have been commissioned by Liverpool City Council.
The festival programme is vast and mind boggling and there’s definitely something for everyone.
The festival kicks off at 5pm on Tuesday 23rd April (Skakespeare’s birthday, no less) at St George’s Hall with the launch of World Book Night. The evening includes sessions with world famous authors such as Jeanette Winterson and frank Cottrell Boyce.
I’ll be heading down to the gorgeous new Central Library when it re-opens on 17th May. I was lucky enough to have a sneak preview back in January and I can promise it will take your breath away.
I’ll also be taking part in the Six Book Challenge, where I’ll read six books and keep a diary with my thoughts on them. I’ll read some old favourites and I’m going to branch out and try some genres I’d never usually look at.
Two particular highlights for me are The Beat Goes On with Roger McGough and Brian Patten on 26th April and James Herbert: A Celebration of his Life and Works on 25th April at the Williamson Tunnels. This should be particularly poignant as Herbert was due to take part in the event himself until his untimely death on 20th March this year.
There are dozens of events over the course of the festival and there’ll be something for everyone. To find out more, check out the In Other Words website.
I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is The Misanthrope, Roger McGough’s latest adaptation of Molière at the Playhouse, is a brilliant, brilliant play. The bad news is that it’s McGough’s last. So hurry down and see it while you can.
The Misanthrope may be set in 17th century France, but it’s very much a play about now. On the surface a comedy of manners, The Misanthrope explores some of the darker sides of humanity and what makes us all, well, human. All too human in some cases.
The Misanthrope is also enormous fun. Just as I was about to write something poncey about iambic pentameter in my notes, Alceste (Colin Tierney), the eponymous Misanthrope, wafted away the pretence of talking in verse and set the scene for a clever, funny, witty and knowing play that takes the audience right along with it.
Telling the tale of Alceste’s rejection of polite society as well as his love for the flighty Célimène (Zara Tempest-Walters), a girl who eptomises the world of courtly love that Alceste despises; The Misanthrope is ultimately a tale about what it is to be good and decent and honest. It is full of wit and charm thanks to McGough, Molière and the fantastic cast and crew that have brought the play so wonderfully to life.
An absolute must see, The Misanthrope is on at the Playhouse from now until 9th March. Get down there while you can.
For more information, check out the Everyman/Playhouse website.