The Passion of St Anthony – (an article i did for Q Magazine)

I read a lot, write poems and I’m a qualified librarian.

That’s probably the uncoolest introduction to a blog you’ve ever read but if it’s cool you’re looking for, you’re looking in the wrong place.

Joy Division weren’t cool when they first started. They were a wannabe punk band high on seeing the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. Then Martin Hannett got hold of them and created the Joy Division sound. Ask Hooky what he thought of Unknown Pleasures when he first heard it.

The Smiths weren’t cool when they first started. Morrissey wore National Health spectacles, cardigans and a hearing aid. I knew Morrissey. We were friends for a while. I worked with his dad who once asked me to

“Have a word with him because all he ever does is sit in his bedroom writing poems…… like you”

So I had a word with him.

We shared poems.

Then the Smiths exploded. It wasn’t my fault.

I worked with Johnny Maher (as he was then) but later became “Marr” so as not to be confused with the drummer of Buzzcocks.

We worked in Stolen From Ivor, a small chain of uncool boutiques selling cheap denim. He was known as

“Johnny Marr – Superstar”

Due to the fact that he constantly told everyone how famous he was going to be because he had……….“the greatest band in the world”.

Smart lad that Johnny Marr.

I always admired him. I still do.

That’s two bands born and bred within minutes of each other that have fundamentally shaped the direction of modern music. What I believe unites these two bands is “words” and a language that goes beyond language. A poetry.

I work with 10,000 young people a year in schools, colleges, prisons and Universities. I try to get them to fall in love with words. I try to emphasise the importance of language and expression by using poetry, literature and music as the catalyst to their understanding.

Occasionally, I’ll use the lyrics of a song but present them as a poem, on paper and read aloud. We’d spend some time looking closely at the words, exploring sound, poetic technique and meaning. Then, I’d play them the tune. The words alone are usually powerful enough but when they hear it with music, they’re blown away.

I see epiphanies on a daily basis where young people hear the words to a poem or a song that strikes a chord and changes their lives. Words have the power to do that.

I receive emails on a weekly basis that all start with

“You won’t remember me but you came into my school and read me poems and hearing those poems have changed my life”

I’ve worked with John Cooper Clarke for nearly 5 years, travelling the world doing a similar thing but on a different kind of stage. Our tour manager is Johnny Green, the legendary tour manager of the Clash and a great writer in his own right. We spend a lot of time talking about writing and why books, poetry and literature are so important to us.

I’m lucky enough to be working with Philip Glass. He came across my poetry when Bernard Sumner of Joy Division and later New Order asked me to perform with him at the Carnegie Hall in New York as part of the Tibet House Benefit in 2014.

I stayed with Philip when visiting New York in May. We are working on a Libretto about Alan Turing, the inventor of the computer. He wasn’t cool. He was the original Geek.

My favourite room in Philips house is an incredible library where I spend most of my time reading and writing. His mother was an English teacher and later went on to be the school librarian. It’s no coincidence.

Philips music contains a different kind of language – a language that goes beyond words but if you listen carefully and in the right frame of mind, you’ll hear the words. I’m reading his autobiography at the moment. It’s called “Words without Music.”

Words. I keep coming back to words. Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, John Cooper Clarke, Philip Glass, Alan Turing and Tony Wilson.

Tony Wilson or Anthony H. Wilson as he was known in some circles, was a TV presenter, the brains behind Factory Records and The Hacienda, a catalyst for the Acid House movement and the greatest youth worker I ever had.

He loved words, books, libraries and literature. He studied English at Cambridge and quoted everyone, from his favourite philosopher Boethius to his favourite Lyricist, Shaun Ryder.

He was a genius with language and knew that the ability to express yourself was key to success. A bit like Alex Ferguson (another great book lover) who constantly told his players to “Go out and express yourselves”.

Tony died on August 10th 2007 and soon after Terry Christian, another lover of words and books, phoned me up and asked me to write a poem to celebrate his life and his achievements.

I did and I called it St Anthony after The Patron Saint of all things lost.

I began performing it as part of my live shows and people liked it.

Peter Saville, the greatest designer in the world, described it as “Genius”.

Joe Duddell an amazing composer and Professor of classical music, who’s worked with the likes of Elbow, Richard Hawley and New Order, heard me performing it, approached me and asked if he could put some music to it. He did and the result is St Anthony – An Ode to Anthony H. Wilson.

If you get a chance have a listen – – it’s really Uncool.

Cool. The greatest Oxymoron in the world.

Mike Garry is Associate Fellow and Artist in Residence at the University of Westminster.

Was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Education for his poetry and work with young people

He has published 3 books, Men’s Morning, Mancunian Meander; God is a Manc and can be found on stage supporting John Cooper Clarke or at a school, college, and university near you.


Madness can just happen

it comes from nowhere

without warning

it is misunderstood by society as a whole and causes so much pain to families all over the world

That is why i’ve chose to be involved with “Headspace”

also, like Gandhi said………………….”The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”

so make the effort to come down and you will have an amazing evening

‘Headspace’ ~ Thurs 21 May ~ featuring Badly Drawn Boy, Mike Garry, Marvin Cheeseman

Headspace ~ An Evening of Manchester Music, Poetry & Comedy

Fundraising for Manchester Mental Health
 Charities, Mind and Unison.

On Thursday 21st MayHeadspace ~ a special fundraising night of music, poetry and comedy ~ will be taking place at Rebellion on Whitworth St, Manchester.

Badly Drawn Boy, Mike GarryMarvin Cheeseman, The New Southern ElectrikkThick Richard and The Marivaux will all be performing ~ followed by DJs, Martin Holland and Leo B Stanley (HAPPY) ~ as part of a fundraiser for Mental Health charity, Manchester Mind and grassroots initiatives ~ and is supported by Unison.

Aside from fundraising, the aim of Headspace is to raise awareness of how important the Mental Health Services are to us, and to highlight the fact that the government is constantly making cutbacks in this area. Plus, of course ~ with such a superb line-up ~ it will be a fantastic night out!

Spring Crossing

People smugglers cram open boats 

With the loneliest of souls with nowhere to go

Their land is baked

They have no hope

Nobody cares

Everyone knows

That sea is deep

That sea is cold

Bodies afloat as far as the eye can sea

Mothers screaming

Fathers freeze

She’s taking on water

She’s starting to lean

Nobody cares

Everyone sees

Upside down

A slow capsizing 

Horror reigns amongst screaming & crying

It feels like a sick game

The kids are diving & hiding

Never to reappear 

Never to reshow

The shock to the system 

A strike to the soul

Nobody cares

Everyone knows

That sea is deep

That sea is cold.

I’m on at The INDIEpendent Cafe In Scunthorpe Tonight – Friday March 27th

I’ve got a solo gig tonight

I’m on at The INDIEpendent Cafe In Scunthorpe

I did a gig in Scunny last year and some of the audience liked it that much they convinced David at the INDEpendent to book me.  He did and It’s tonight.  So come down. The fun starts at 7.30 and i’ll put an end to all that fun nonsense around 8.30

I’ll probably do 2 x 30-40 minute sets with a break in between and i believe theres some really good local poets on before me.

I’ll be doing some new stuff for the first time live and some oldies as well

and i’ll definitely be doing this

I’ll be selling books

so get some extra spends of your mam

and come and watch me

I believe the food is great there, so come down for your tea and watch some poetry.

Sack watching England.

It’s always a downer.

for more details about the INDEpendent Cafe check out this link and if it doesn’t work Alta Vista it!

John Cooper Clarke at the Apollo on Ardwick Green

I’m on at the Apollo on Ardwick Green on Saturday night with Dr John Cooper Clarke, Luke Wright and Simon Day.

I was born 10 minutes walk from Ardwick Green.  I went to Shakespeare Street Nursery, my Auntie Maureen had a grocers shop on Chaucer Street and we lived two hundred yards from where Elizabeth Gaskell welcomed guests like Charles Dickens and The Brontes.

My family ran the Plymouth Grove Hotel for over 50 years and my Mam, sisters and brothers all worked behind the bar.  i met Bob Greaves there once, pushing over the “pile of pennies” – it was the closest thing we got to glamour.

The first Sunday League team i played for, Medlock Rangers played at Medlock school in Ardwick and my Nana and Grandad lived on Pedley Walk. My Godfather, Jack runs the Apsely Cottage round the back of the Apollo and some of my earliest years were spent round and about the crofts and bombed out houses of Ardwick and Ancoats.

Hindley and Brady spent a lot of time in and out of Ardwick but don’t let that put you off it’s a great place.

We used to go to ardwick sports centre from school to play 5 a side and we hung around the back doors of the Apollo trying to sneak into gigs and sometimes me and my mate mark would go to St. Gregory’s for our dinner, Marks Mum was the dinner lady.  Ardwick, Born and Bred….ish.

So, Saturday night at the Apollo is very special for me.  It’s across the road from where we used to get our school uniform, across the road from my doctors, across the road from the first Kwik Save I ever encountered and across the road from anything i could ever have imagined happening to me as a kid.

Luke Wright’s on as well – I’ve travelled with him supporting Johnny Clarke for 4 years now and it’s a pleasure to share the stage with the man – If you’ve not heard any of his poetry before have a quick mooch at this, one of my personal favourite of his – The Toll.

The Toll

Simon Day is on as well – I love the guy – I love his characters and in Geoffrey Allerton he’s created an amazingly great shit poet – have a mooch at his poem England

Something else i love about Simon Day.  He loves Manchester.  He’s spent loads of time here working with the likes of Steve Coogan, John Thompson and Caroline Aherne making the Fast Show.  In his brilliant autobiography this is what he said about Mancs

“Why does Manchester produce so many gifted people?  Compare it to Liverpool or Leeds or London for that matter and in terms of music and Comedy, the Mancunians are like Ancient Greeks”

Oh, Dr John Cooper Clarke is on as well and he’s the business.

I believe there’s still a few tickets to be had so come on down and listen to some poetry.  What else you going to do on a Saturday night?  Watch the Voice?  Sack that, come and listen a voice………….or four

Happy 65th Birthday – Tony Wilson

Today would have been Tony Wilsons 65th birthday.

I’ve just woken up in an East London Terrace to think that It only seems like yesterday that I was falling asleep in a North London terrace when my phone rang.  It was Lemn Sissay.

“Mike, Tony’s dead” – No intro, no hello, no how are you just that ace Mancunian, Wiganish, Leighish twang that Lemn has saying “Tony Wilson’s dead”

I turned on the TV to see Mark E Smith and Paul Morley on Newsnight confirming what Lemn had said “Tony Wilson’s dead.”

I kept repeating the words over and over in silence and aloud

“Tony Wilson’s dead”

“Tony Wilson’s dead,”

The words seemed so incongruous and reluctant to sit side by side

“Tony Wilson’s dead” and they echoed and they are still echoing years down the line.

But today is different, today is joyous, he’d have been 65.  I can’t help thinking, “What would Tony have done on his 65th Birthday?”  It’d have been some party.  I wouldn’t have been invited because i never knew Tony.  I never spoke to Tony.

Who was i to talk to Tony Wilson?  Me, a lowly bedroom poet.  He seemed so distant, so intelligent and so knowledgeable.  He’d quote you Neitzsche for Breakfast, Marx for elevenses and Shoponhaur for tea.  No, I would never talk to Tony.  I didn’t have the confidence.

Tony did some amazing things.  He changed the landscape of Manchester and beyond but I’m not going to sit here and say how much of an ace guy he was because he wasn’t.  He made mistakes in his life.  He wasn’t an angel or a saint.  Sometimes he was a knob head and did knob headish things like we all do.  But what I do know is this, Manchester was a dark place for me to grow up in but when Tony got involved, he seemed to turn a light on, he made the sun come out.

Soon after tony died, Terry Christian phoned me up

“Mike, the BBC has asked me to do a radio show about Tony and his life.  Will you do a poem for it?”

How could I refuse?

I had a week and spent a lot of time researching Factory, the Hacienda and dredging through my own memories of Tony and I was amazed how much he had influenced my life without ever speaking directly to me.  (Zeitgeist talk to me)

Then I remembered something my mother taught me as a child …….”Michael, if you ever lose anything say this prayer and St Anthony will find it for you.”

“St Anthony St Anthony

Please come round

Something is lost that can not be found”

Then it all just seemed to flow and the poem seemed to write itself and I’ve never looked back since

People loved the poem and importantly for me the professor and composer Joe Duddell loved it and wrote some classical music to accompany the poem.  Then Bernard From New Order Heard it and thought it was “Fuckin’ Brilliant” and invited me over to New York to perform it at Carnegie Hall with New Order and that’s where Iggy Pop heard it and thought it was “Awesome” Patti Smith heard it and loved it as did Matt Berninger from The National.  The day after the gig i got a phone call from Philip Glass asking me to “pop” around to his house in Manhattan for a chat.

He sat me on his piano stool by his piano and told me that he also loved the poem, my performance and the music and wanted to know if i would perform it live with him on a tour of Europe and at a festival he Curates in California every year.  How could i refuse?

Between me and you and don’t tell anyone, we are going to release it as a single very soon.  I’m not exactly sure when yet but it’s soon so keep your eyes peeled.  The music Joe has created is majestic and the Cassia Quartet who play the music are brilliant.  We have almost finished the greatest music video of all time to accompany it and we have an amazing remix (by the greatest remixer in the world) to go on the “B” side. But like i said, don’t tell anyone or i’ll be in trouble.

All the money raised from the sale of the single will go to The Christie who do loads of research in to that twenty first century plague we call Cancer.  It killed my Mam, it killed my beautiful thirteen year old nephew, loads of my mate, it killed Tony and it will probably kill you. So, keep your eyes open for the single and buy it when it’s released cos i find cancer a bit of a TWAT

but, like i said, don’t tell anyone i told you about it.

Here are the words to the poem and at the bottom of this blog is a link to the spoken word version of the poem.  It would be lovely of you shared it with your mates, family and friends – God Bless x

“St Anthony St Anthony

Please come round

Something is lost that can not be found”

Talk to me of Albion Anderton and art

The Arndale

Alan Turin

Acid House

Alexandra Park

Bez the Buzzcocks bouncing bombs

The beautiful Busby Babes


Cancer Christies Catholicism

Crack and Curt Cocaine

Talk to me of all these things and one thing is for certain

I’ll see the face I’ll hear the voice of Anthony H Wilson

Dance Design Devotto Durrutti

Development of an industrial dirty Northern City

De La Salle


And how in the end you hated the pity

Elvis Engels ecstasy

A girl called Emmeline

The hours I spent watching you on my black and white TV.

From So It Goes To Sunday Roast




Elephants washed by dwarves on 70’s TV

Factory fame financial fuck ups

Poetic Form

The Fall

4/6/76 at the lesser Free Trade hall

Talk to me

Talk to me

Of Gretton God Granada

Hooky and Hannett

And how the fighting just got harder

Hamlet Ibsen The IRA

Jesus Mary and Keith Joseph

Joy Division


The importance of the moment



Lust for Life

Louis Louis

Linnaeus Banks





And Karl Marx

Night Clubs new bands New Order Oppenheimer

Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark

Topical Late night intellectual chat shows like

The other side of midnight and After Dark

Talk to me of all these things and one thing is for certain

I’ll hear the Salford Cambridge TONES of Anthony H Wilson

Talk to me of Peterloo of praxis police and pride

Talk to me of Pontius Pilot of Power Corruption and lies

The Queen the queers the quiet ones all shy and self and effacing

Like Morrissey but not Mark E Smith or Shaun Ryder when he’s been free basing

Johnny Rotten


Richard and Judy

Vinnie Reilly

The stupid yellow circular face now known simply as a smiley

Righteous rebellious red ridiculous

Rochdale and Regent road

I want to hear the sound of the Salford soft boy moan and moan

Tony Talk to me in the sacristy of a Salford De La Salle

Of preachers and poets, professors and philosophers

Tony talk or you’ll leave me sad


Shaw the Smiths Stone Roses

That smile so smug the swagger

I want to hear it from the mouth of an honest hardworking Blagger

Talk to me of Sex pistols Substance

The streets the sounds

The sniffed and snorted stolen swigged multi million pounds

Tony talk to me of the greatest ever Man United team

Was it

Greg, Burns, Jones, Taylor, Robson and Roy Keane

Best , Law, Charlton, Stiles and Eric Cantona

Unknown Pleasures of the Treble

Incantation from the stars

Talk to me half pissed

Talk to me half stoned

Talk to me as a boy when I’m sat in my Fallowfield council home

Talk to me on the telly

Talk to me on the radio

Talk to me at the opening of some arty Farty show

Talk of vision virgin victory and violence

Don’t leave me sat in the Hidden Gem listening to the buzz of silence

Talk to me of Warsaw

Drug wars and trendy flats within warehouses

But when it comes to footy Tony – don’t talk to me about the scousers

X Ray Spex

X Ray tests

X Ray therapy

X wife chats on XFM

The best youth worker I’ve ever seen

Yin and Yang

Your master plan of an independent North scene

Yoric Yonkers

Youth club banter

Yeats – come and talk to me

Tony Talk to Me

Zeitgeist talk to me

Wilson talk to me

Le Tour De Yorkshire – God is a Manc TV

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