Manchester V Liverpool

I always struggle with anything that pitches Mancs against Scousers – So this weekend, i’m feeling particularly uneasy – I love liverpool, it’s one of the greatest cities in the world and it’s just down the road.

I know all the arguments as to why we should hate each other but those are the type of arguments Donald Trump has just won an election with.

My first experiences of liverpool was driving to the ferry when going to Ireland as a kid and there was always something very comforting about the fact that once you came of the motorway at the Rocket Pub, the houses looked like my house – i.e. Red and Council with a knackered ford escort in the front garden.

Then our Chris, first in the family to go to university, went to study there.  So I’d go and see him – he lived in Toxteth – I grew up in Moss Side – they were very similar, so, i always felt at home.  We’d go to the Everyman, The Casablanca and the State, the club where Frankie did the video to Relax.

We’d go and watch live bands there and look at how many brilliant bands came and still come from liverpool and in most cases, we saw them in little clubs and bars –

I made friends there with “REAL” people who had similar upbringings and experiences to mine – i.e. second generation Irish living alongside second generation Afro-Carribean or Asian in Ghettos and we all had one enemy –  Thatcher – It unified us – the hatred of a Conservative government determined to make me, my family and my community feel like shit, to usurp our confidence and to make us feel like useless second generation Immigrants – Please don’t think this immigrant hatred is new, it’s been going on for years especially by the Tories –

and look at the art that was coming out of the city – Bleasedale plays made me feel special and real and alive -Our Chris lived with art student so we were always going to exhibitions and galleries and the passport office was there – which was very important in terms of seeing new worlds

I never had any grief in liverpool for coming from manchester, never started on never picked on and never singled out – wish i could say the same for the other cities I’ve visited over the years.

So, Lets not hate and lets remember what MLK said about hate

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that – Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.



I know and I Love these Mersey streets

Cos I’ve raced and chased around here since 1973

From trips to Ireland

8 of crammed into a mark one escort

I’ve played football here and I’ve been through the courts

I lived in the last house on upper parliament street

Just before Smithdown Road

And I dance in the state before Frankie Relaxed

But the Casablanca was my Home

And I danced with Red Stripe to the jukebox late into the night

Never a cross word spoken never a single fight

I’ve bantered over football music film theatre and art

And I’ve drank with striking Dockers seen the passion in their hearts

And I’ve scored in the darkest alleyways of Liverpool 8

Never had a problem there

I was always treated ace

Aigburth Allerton Kensington Penny lane wine bar

Lark Lane Canning street

I’ve slept in Sefton Park

I’ve worked in schools in West Kirkby Anfield and Tuebrook

And through the art of poetry I’ve taught young kids to look

Deep into the soul of these magnificent places

Where the history of this city is carved into the people’s faces

And I travelled to Anfield a few days after Hillsborough

And place a single rose on the pitch and I said a prayer for the children

And the more I see

the more I hear

it’s led me to the conclusion

This city and its people remind me of Mancunians

The industry the Energy & the really good-looking lads

The way we don’t take ourselves too seriously

The way we love a laugh

And the second-generation Irish thing

The Asian Caribbean mix

And the way governments for centuries

Have treated our people like shit

It baffles me, confuses me how any scousers could hate me

When blood runs thicker than the Mersey down the 62 or the A580

See I believe we’re first cousins who secretly admire each other

So let me take you on a trip round our way

Tell me if it’s familiar

In Gorton the Girls they know all the words to songs by Chakka Kahn






Articulate- Dike Omejé

Before you read this, it might help to read this

January 13th 2017 is the tenth anniversary of Dike Omejé’s death. I want to celebrate his achievements with friends and family and introduce new readers to his life and his work.

So, a group of his friends are in the process of organising “Articulate -Dike Omejé” A day to celebrate the life of our beatiful friend and amazing poet and performer.

It’s taking place at Contact Theatre on Saturday January 14th between 12 noon and 10pm

We aren’t fully sure what is going to be happening yet, but we do know that we want to Articulate Diké – whatever that means!

We want to do workshops at both his Primary and Secondary schools

We want to talk about his life

Get people to read his poems

Assemble a collection of video, recordings and photos to share

Have a collection of his books on sale

We want to hear the amazing Speakeasy band, a wonderful collective of musicians who Diké performed with regularly (please see a festive performance here  and generally remember him.

If you have any recordings or photos or anecdotes about Dike please send them to me at

But most importantly, put january 14th in the diary and lets celebrate and Articulate – Dike Omejé


Remember Remember The Third of November

Brexit hey!

Ok, the majority voted to leave and as a “remain” voter, I accept that but will it be “Hard” or “Soft”?

What are the terms of our exit?

Who decides?

Theresa, Boris and Nigel want it “hard” but they can’t just decide exit terms without some sort of consultation or vote –  That’s be undemocratic and considering one of their arguments was to win back our Parliamentary Sovereignty, it seems peculiar that they don’t want Parliament involved in negotiations concerning our exit terms.

Thank God Miliband, Clegg and the “rebel” MP’s went to the High Court or the our exit would be crueler, harder and uglier than we could have imagined.

I wrote a poem about it which was aired on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio Manchester (Gods own country) – The text is below but if you want to hear me reading it, follow this link

The Maiden of Maidenhead

Remember Remember the third of November

And Parliaments latest plot

For the High Court ruled

MP’s can choose

Whether Brexit would be “Hard” or “Soft”

When the Maiden of Maidenhead’s was so intent

That she would decide and not parliament

“Hard” Brexit would commence during lent of 2017

And that Article 50 would be invoked

Hidden behind a puff of smoke

But MP’s did plot and that plan was choked

There’s never any smoke without fire

So, Holler boys

Holler Boys

Let Division Bells ring

While the Maiden of Maidenhead sings





World Mental Health Day 2016

I contemplated Suicide once – For 1 Millionth of a second – then i realised, It’d hurt and not just me – So, I sat down and wrote this

Suicide Song

Cast your shadow across midnight
Stand up to your knees in the tide
Wait till the morning and you’ll disappear – Drown by tears of fright

Illuminated by sunshine
Toasted by the sun
Escape with yourself in a ball of flames – There’s never any need to run

Swallow yourself whole for pudding
Don’t ask for custard or cream
The whole street’s been out looking for you – But only I know where you’ve been

Shoot yourself in the face with a water pistol  – Slash your wrists with an Easter egg
Have the time of your life on a cerebral ride – But never trust your own head

Dive off the Empire State Building – Get chased by a dog in the Park
Ask your dad if he was Jack The Lad – Ask your mam if she was Joan of Arc

Sing to the coppers at the football match – Start on the cock of the school
Never get paid for a full weeks work – Better to be honest than a fool

Turn the T.V on at midnight
Spin it round to face the wall
Bung your ears with cotton wool
You’ll hear the whisper of the bullet as you fall

Men’s Mournings

I’ve written a new bookIMG_8129.jpg

It’s full of poems

It took 50 years to write it

It’s a celebration of life

with a nod to the dead

It’s called Men’s Mournings

I’m launching it tomorrow night at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival Hub in Albert Square from 8

I’ve invited some of my favourite poets down to celebrate with me

Sahra Al-Shamiry – an 18 year old Moss Side girl who is taking the poetry scene by storm

Marvin Cheeseman – the funniest darkest poet I’ve ever met

Toria Garbut hurling vocal javelins from her Yorkshire council house window

And there’s live music as well

I’m launching my book @mfdf16’s Poetry Not Poverty night because they support Streetsmart – the Homeless Charity

if you’ve never heard of them, Check out the brilliant work they do here……..

Copies of Men’s Mourings will be available for sale on the night but if you can’t make it email me – I’ll sign copies and post it out to you

and don’t forget

The nights are drawing in

Christmas round the corner

Get your stocking fillers early

And happy National Poetry day for Thursday

I’m doing the Edinburgh Festival

Mike Scottish poster A3

I’m doing the Edinburgh Festival at the Scottish ARTS Club August 20 – 25 at 12 noon daily

I wouldn’t normally be interested in the hassle of it all but I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse

So, I’ve decided to have fun with two of my closest mates.

I’ve known them both for forty years and have loved the music they create so i set them a task of creating a soundscape to go along with my poem

I’ve decided to use a twenty year old poem and update it a bit – it was featured on BBC Radio 4 in May and Jackie Kay, The Scottish Makar responded to my Men’s Morning by writing a Woman’s Morning – it was Pick of the Week – have a listen here

I received the music a week ago – so all in all, i’ve had a week to work on it

I could be stressed by that but I refuse to be because they are my mates and you can’t get stressed when working with your mates, can you? Can YOU?

If your in Edinburgh at all from this saturday – come along – see what we’ve created

The Scottish Arts club is beautiful – We are gonna Manc it up – be good to see you there

Men’s Morning and other Scottish tales

After an amazing weekend in Glasgow and Edinburgh with John Cooper Clarke and Simon Day and an incredible week of love and kind words from around the globe for Men’s Morning on BBC Radio 4 (If you haven’t heard it, you can listen again here ) and the Sottish Makar, Jackie Kay’s response to Men’s Morning, “Moss Side Mirrors” (If you haven’t heard it, you can listen again here )

I am very proud to announce that Men’s Morning will be Premiered Live at this summers  Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I shall be performing it at the Scottish Arts Club in Rutland Square in the heart of Edinburgh from Saturday 20th of August – Thursday 25th

Tickets are available at the The Edinburgh Fringe site

I Truly Miss My Son Today

I truly miss my son today

I need to hear his name spoken aloud

I scream till I’m raucous when I’m at home alone

I sing whisper it when I’m stood in a crowd

We’ve not fallen out

We’re just miles apart

Makes me feel lost, lonely and Astray

My heart slow bleeds as my soul departs

And I truly miss my son today


I’m gonna hold that boy in these two loving arms

I’m gonna tell that boy just how his Father feels

How I’d walk across Europe and Asia in bare feet

Swim naked through the south china sea

For a moment of his beauty

For a instance of his grace

For a second of his cheeky northern charm

And I’ll tell him things I’ve never told him before

When I hold my boy in these two loving arms

Men’s Morning – Moss Side Leisure Centre

I grew up in a grey world

Grey buildings, grey pavements and grey skies

Photographs were grey

The caravan sites were grey

The beaches were grey and the people were grey

Then, Slum Clearance and we moved to new house and slowly, glimmers of light would flicker through peoples eyes and I’d hear singing in peoples voices and a thing called the sun was rumoured to live behind the grey clouds

Warmth existed in peoples words and kindness lived behind the beamed smiles

I went to new places

I experienced new things

I ate pasta

I started to live a new life and people inspired me, not pop stars or film idols, just ordinary people that I would meet on my street and in my neighbourhood

And they still inspire – Heroes, every one of them.

My formal education was atrocious but what I learned from certain experiences in certain places, was more than I ever learned at University

One such place was Men’s Morning at Moss Side Leisure Centre

Every Friday morning the whole of the leisure centre was a “man only “space – so, you were free to do activities such as 5-a-side, badminton, squash, weights, table tennis, swimming etc and it was all finished off with a good scrub and sweat in the Steam Room and Sauna.

At 12.30 all the men would leave and the afternoon was a Woman only space.

Equality in Moss side, circa 1980’s.

I first started attending Men’s Morning at the age of 13 – I had a football injury and my doctor recommended it. I think he recommended it more for the mind than the body. I loved it

I loved listening to grown men speak of “Grown up” things.  I loved the competitive nature of the sport. I loved the banter and the fun and the confrontations and hanging with the “bad boys” – I continued to attend through my teen years and into manhood (??) and i was amazed by the range of people and the stories and the lives that were shared.  It was a special place and it was made special by the people.

I can’t remember whether it was Arthur Rimbauld or Eric Cantona who said “An artist in my eyes is someone who lightens up a dark room.”  If that is the case, Men’s Morning was full of artists.

I write about the things I’ve seen and experienced.  I try to capture beauty in words and I want to share that beauty because the more beauty we see, the more beautiful we become. I wrote a poem called Men’s Morning that attempts to capture the essence of what Men’s Morning was about. Its people, stories, its spirit and its warmth and those things words alone just cannot capture .

It later became my first book, I remember typing it up on my old Mac Classic I bought from Johnny Roadhouse for £100.  (I’ve still got that computer)  Then, I got my mate Ant Ball to lay it out for publication and do a cover.  I got an ISBN and everything.

Job done. I’d made my first book.  I launched it in May 2000 on a boat called “La Pinta” in Salford Docks and I read it with my beautiful friend Diké Omeje (rest in peace)

It was an amazing night – amazing things happened and continue to happen

Sixteen years later, someone from  BBC Radio 4 heard it and liked it and asked me to make a programme about Men’s Morning.

I love Moss Side. It’s the back drop to much of my poetry.  It made me what i am and who i am.  I am so proud of the place and it’s people and i’m proud to have grown up there.  So, when Radio 4 asked me to go back and to talk to some of the people from my poem and men who attended men’s morning, I felt honoured.

The programme will be broadcast in May and part of the programme will be a live reading of the poem from Moss Side Leisure Centre on Wednesday March 23rd.

The boat was packed in Salford on the launch night and a kind of magic happened that only happens only a few times in a persons life

If it felt one millionth as good as it did that night on the boat, it will be beautiful.

It starts at 7 and your invited but we’d love you to get there for 6.30

It’s going to be emotional

and we will see colour

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness

2016 is the 60th anniversary of the publication of Allen Ginsberg‘s Howl – a seminal piece of work that changed the world of poetry and one could argue, that it changed America

Now, i could go on about his influence on Kerouac and the other Beats but it’s the personal things that mean so much more to me

Like the time I was playing at the Henry Miller Memorial Library in the Big Sur in California. I met a guy who grew up in San Francisco but his family had a cabin by Bixby Creek Canyon close to Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s cabin where Kerouac wrote “The Big Sur”.

A beautiful man who took me for a walk down the canyon, under Bixby Bridge and onto the beach he played on as a kid.  He told me some amazing stories but my favourite was the time he was walking to the beach as a young man and saw someone stark naked on Ferlinghetti’s cabin porch, just stood there, looking out – starkers – “A tall hairy man” he described him to his father.  It was Alan.


When I’ve played with Philip Glass and Friends, we always finishes the show with “Footnote to Howl by Alan – It makes an amazing climax to the show and allows everyone involved to come on stage and share in the reading of the poem.  Usually, he gets Patti Smith to read it but when Patti isn’t with us, he asks me to read it – What an honour and what an amazing poem – Here’s Pattie performing it with tibetan monks for a special visit from the Dalai Lama

And finally, My Gaffer, Dr John Cooper Clarke told me a story about him and Alan Touring the UK and Johnny introduced Alan to his mum. Alan said it was a pleasure to meet her and described Johnny as “One of the most polite men he’d ever met” – Johnny was really pleased by this and explaining this to me he said, “What else does a mother want to hear?  It’s the greatest compliment that can be given to a mother about her son”.  And on reflection, he’s probably right.

Yesterday was the  Anniversary of that famous reading of Howl in Berkley and today we are celebrating it with a Beats Day in Luton.  The day celebrates Allen Ginsberg, his life and his poetry

The day looks like this

2pm – Opening of Beat day by Jeff Towns who introduces the day and his

2.15pm – Allen Ginsberg and GUERRILLA TV – New York filmmaker David Shulman in conversation with Jeff Towns. They will explore David’s 1990 film and show rare footage of Ginsberg narrating the introduction.

3.05pm – Black Breton: White Negro – Ideas of Race in Jack Kerouac’s writings: talk by Professor Daniel Williams.

3.45pm – Ah! Sunflower – British writer, documentarist, film maker and poet, Iain Sinclair introduces a screening of his seminal film of Allen Ginsberg in London in 1967.

4.30pm – Break

5.00pm – Mike Garry – Live dynamic performance poetry. A passionate Mancunian, his “Saint Anthony” on YouTube is read by Iggy Pop. He performed backed by New Order at New York’s Carnegie Hall. He has just written the libretto for a new Phillip Glass commission.

5.45pm – American Smoke – Iain Sinclair talks about his Travel/memoir across America in search of Beats, described by The Guardian as “grippingly haunted”.

6.30pm – A rare screening of No More to Say & Nothing to Weep For – A fine filmic eulogy to Allen Ginsberg.

7.30pm – Howl – a live performance with Ceri Murphy as Ginsberg reading the poem accompanied by graphic illustrative projections.

8.30pm – Round table summing up with Iain Sinclair, Dan Williams, Mike Garry and David Shulman, who will discuss the topics raised – chaired by Jeff Towns.


It looks like an amazing day & tickets are still available, so come and join us and for more info and a 10 time better blog than mine, have a look at what my mate Jeff Towns is saying as he’s arranged the day –