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A Look At the Poetry of Roger McGough


Today, for Poetry Friday, I want to introduce everyone to Roger McGough...

Roger McGough is an English poet, performance poet, broadcaster, children's author and playwright. He presents the BBC Radio 4 programme Poetry Please, as well as performing his own poetry. McGough's popularity, commercial success, use of humour, and the lack of pretension of his verse has tended to restrict appreciation of his work as 'serious poetry.' This amounts to a serious under-estimation of Roger's body of work.

The early poetry of McGough has been characterised, as being reliant on play with words and their meanings. It has also been noted to exhibit a stylised wit, and, at times, a sadness based on themes of lost youth, unfulfilled relationships, and the downside of city life. Personally, I find my style most engaging.

The form of some of his verse, has been influenced by his experience of writing song lyrics. You will find numerous examples of Roger conducting poetry readings on You Tube. Roger McGough Poems

In my personal poetry collection I have numerous McGough books. A poet I believe worthy of further investigation.


I spend my days

Collecting smithereens.

I find them on buses

In department stores

And on busy pavements.

At restaurant tables

I pick up the leftovers

Of polite conversation

At railway stations

The tearful debris

Of parting lovers.

I pocket my eavesdroppings

and store them away.

I make things out of them.

Nice things, sometimes.

Sometimes odd, like this.

Roger McGough

In Case of Fire

In case of FIRE break glass

In case of GLASS fill with water

In case of WATER wear heavy boots

In case of HEAVY BOOTS assume foetal position

In case of FOETAL POSITION loosen clothing

In case of CLOTHING avoid nudist beach

In case of NUDIST BEACH keep sand out of eyes

In case of EYES close curtains

In case of CURTAINS switch on light

In case of LIGHT embrace truth

In case of TRUTH spread word

In case of WORD keep mum

In case of MUM open arms

In case of ARMS lay down gun

In case of GUN, fire

In case of FIRE break glass.

Roger McGough


  1. McGough is a such a creative genius...thanks for sharing these, Alan!

  2. These are great. Thank you for sharing his work with us. I'm always amazed when wonderful writers don't always make it across the ocean.

    1. They are great and only part of McGough's extensive poetic works Liz. It is always a treat to be introduced to another poet worthy of greater attention. We all have our favourites. Roger McGough has long been one of mine. So pleased you liked what you read.

  3. Alan, these are wonderful. Thank you for introducing me to Roger's work. I laughed out loud to, 'In Case of Fire.' I'm always on the lookout for poems to share with students. This one is especially great.

    1. Linda, it pleases me that the introduction went so well. Glad you found words you can share.

  4. I first discovered McGough's work in college. It was nice to read the poems you shared this week (new to me). I usually anticipate the unexpected/surprising when I open one of his books. You never know -- and that's a good thing. :)

    1. As you say Jama, there is much to be said for surprises! It is indeed a good thing...

  5. I love McGough's clever & different use of 'smithereens', mostly I've thought of it as a group only to find it is a 'little bit' of something. And "In Case of Fire", wow, the turning of it back to the beginning is a lovely surprise. Thanks for sharing about him, Alan, all new to me!

    1. I'm always pleased that such introduction go well. It is always affirming. A new poet and some surprises is an excellent result Linda.

  6. Thank you for introducing me to McGough. I like the Smithereens poem.

    1. You are most welcome Jone. May you find further delight in the words of the amazing McGough!

  7. Enjoyed these and will save them to read again! Here's a haiku for you:

    the only problem
    with haiku is that you just
    get started and then
    ~Roger McGough

    1. Thank you Tabatha. What a splendid word gift! So indicative of Roger McGough's humorous style. Much appreciated.


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