‘Tonight at Noon’ celebrates 50th anniversary of The Mersey Sound

A series of events and exhibitions is to take place in Liverpool to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the most influential poetry anthologies of all time.

The Mersey Sound by Liverpool poets Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten was first published in May 1967 and is one of the world’s bestselling poetry anthologies.

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 alternative rock group Sonic Youth.

Thurston is on a world tour to promote his latest album RocknRoll Consciousness, and will stop off in Liverpool to perform a specially commissioned musical response to The Mersey Sound. 

New Writing

Poetry reading at Bluecoat – 7.30pm, Friday 16 June. £10 a ticket

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.

Adrian’s partner, Catherine Marcangeli has curated all the Tonight At Noon events which have been commissioned by Liverpool City Council.

Roger McGough said: “1967 was also the year in which the Scaffold had their first Top Twenty hit, and I could be heard singing:

“Thank U very much for the Mersey Sound

“Thank U very much, Thank U very, very much

“Half a dozen for a pound

“Thank U very, very, very much.

“But the verse never caught on.”

Brian Patten said: “We didn’t have an agenda. It just seemed pretty obvious that if people were turning up to the readings it was important to present our work the best we could and to make it accessible.

The Mersey Sound did have a lot of influence and I think it gave poetry back to the people who wanted to write it rather than it being controlled by those who wanted to write about it, those who fed off it. I guess we wanted to demystify it.”

 

The Tonight At Noon programme has been funded by Arts Council England.

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