Reading is important to me. From a very early age, it provided me with an escape
I went to the café for tea with Tiger Who Came to Tea, I lived in a peach with James, I sat on the wall with Humpty, I did hand clap rhymes and skipping games because the reality of growing up in 1970s innercity Manchester was not as beautiful as it is made out in sepian photographs.
A “good catholic primary education” provided me with the stable poetic diet– Mesmerising stories by Roald Dahl and tales of Finn Macool sat on the carpet with Miss Macoomb, my primary school teacher. There was loads of rhyme and repetition from mass, stations of the cross and Benediction. I was lured into language by beautiful words like Genuflection Golgotha and Gethsemane. My future role as a poet was clearly mapped out at quite an early age.
Growing up in an irish household surrounded by musicians story tellers I loved language, rhythmn, rhyme and the musicality of the voice.
Having worked in a public library for 13 years, having organised reading promotions and literary events – I wasn’t doing it for the fun of it, I was doing it because it was important to me and I know for lots of other people (especially innercity young people) literature is the way out – not x factor. I’m now a poet performing to over 10,000 young people a year in schools colleges and prisons and over 25,000 last year whilst on tour with John cooper Clarke. Books are important
The first library i ever visited was Fallowfield library. I’d kicked my ball onto the roof and like my mam taught me, i went in and politely asked for my ball to be retrieved. Whilst waiting for my ball, i noticed people walking round the room and picking up wonderful looking books, getting them stamped at the counter and taking them out the door. The lovely woman behind the counter explained to me what a Library was and gave me a card to take home for my mum to sign.
I later worked in Fallowfield library, setting up a homework centre for the young people of the area to go to to get support with school work, homework and life generally because the inner city can be a tough place for young people to grow up especially if you can’t afford the right trainers.
Manchester City Council are being hammered by this Condem Government – they hate Manchester because we have what they never can have, so they try to punish us because they are jealous of our city. The Condem Government have massively cut our budgets and as a result, local libraries could be chopped. A consultation is taking place at Fallowfield library on wednesday February 13th and will be attended by the head of libraries, councillors and those who decide. I believe that public pressure will keep the library open. People power. So, if you turn up next wednesday and tell them why this library shouldn’t close, I believe they will listen to you and keep the library open.
I believe that this government want to create Ghettos for the working class, where unemployment and crime is seen as the norm. Where gangs sell drugs and young people kill each other for being on the wrong street or post code. Thatcher did it knowingly when she ruined our industrial landscape by closing mines, steelworks and places where the core employer was at the heart of the community. Industry doesn’t exist anymore so for communities like Fallowfield the heart of the community is the library and every demographic of that community uses the library. Young and old, Black and white, Mam and dad, jew and gentile.
Don’t lose your library – get down and demonstrate – for more information on how you can save your library, follow the Fallowfield library facebook page here