‘He really believed in Write Out Loud’: David Andrew, former Gig Guide editor, dies aged 82
We at Write Out Loud are very sorry to say that one of the most influential, active, enthusiastic and committed members of the Write Out Loud team over the years - our former Gig Guide editor, David Andrew - has died suddenly at the age of 82. Everyone at Write Out Loud feels a deep sense of loss. David, a proud northerner who nevertheless for family reasons moved south in later years, was born in Middleton, in the borough of Rochdale, Greater Manchester. He went to school in Lancaster and Macclesfield, and studied philosophy much later at Leeds University, graduating in 2001. He worked in public administration, first in the NHS but principally in the Civil Service, retiring from the Department of Health in 1996.
He began writing poetry in his teens, prompted by winning the English prize in the fifth form (The Faber Book of Twentieth Century Verse). He published two collections of poetry, Through The Looking Glass (Brimstone Press, 2010) and Ventriloquist’s Dummy (Lapwing, 2015), and was also published in a number of leading poetry magazines, including The Rialto, PN Review, Long Poem magazine, Magma, Poetry Salzburg Review and Tears in the Fence.
His colleague Julian Jordon, co-founder of Write Out Loud, said: “David Andrew was a huge, generous source of support and help, not just to Write Out Loud, but to me in a personal capacity, when things were difficult along the journey to getting the website established. His astute analytical skills were very welcome, but it was his kindness that shone through for me, although I know he often dismissed such matters. He could be a pain in the proverbial at times, but was often proved right, annoyingly. He really cared about the website and the people we served. He truly believed in it. And he was a superb poet. Above all, we have a lost a dear friend, whom we shall remember for the joy and fulfilment he helped us bring to countless aspiring poets. He made a difference, and will be very sadly missed by the whole Write Out Loud family.”
Paul Emberson, Write Out Loud’s technical director, said: “I do find this very sad news. David spent countless hours sifting data and analysing how we could make the Gig Guide better. He helped me enormously by taking time to carefully describe bugs and new features that would help the users and the things he suggested always did help - even if we didn't always understand how at first.
“David was also a founder of Write Out Loud in its current Community Interest Company form which Julian, David and I grouped together to create in 2015. Until that point we had muddled along ok but decided we should form a proper company, with governance, policies, etc. David was the right man at the right time, serving as director for our first few years as a CIC. The unique combination of analysis and creativity he brought to meetings are fondly remembered.”
Write Out Loud’s news editor, Greg Freeman, said: “David befriended me from the moment I joined Write Out Loud in 2011. For a number of years we had a high old time together, going to poetry festivals, where he would often take photographs for the website, especially at the annual Write Out Loud poetry jam at Marsden jazz festival, pictured right, and attending poetry nights in and around London. We were regulars at places such as the Troubadour, and at the Royal Festival Hall for big prize nights. But we also attended and read at many open-mic nights as well. David’s appetite for and interest in poetry was all-consuming. He was a friend who added quite another dimension to my life. I wrote a poem about our relationship, titled it ‘Backroom Boys’ (his words) and dedicated it to him.”
Greg added: “Re-reading his poems today, I can hear his actual voice so clearly. There is a merry, twinkling warmth and vitality to all of them. I’m dazzled by the intellectual brilliance of some of the poems, and moved by the tenderness of the love poems. David deserved much more recognition as a poet than he received.”
David was generous in giving financial support to poetry organisations, and especially to Write Out Loud, without expecting anything in return. His poetic tastes and his own output favoured the more conversational style of much American poetry. In 2015 he recalled being one of the thousands of people at the Albert Hall in 1965 for the International Poetry Incarnation. He said: “I was 26, and had been interested in poetry for getting on 10 years. I’d already come across the Beat poets, and still have a copy of the City Lights edition of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Gregory Corso’s Gasoline at home. No wonder I went to it; these people you’d read, you were seeing them in the flesh.
“It took place in the round, rather than on the stage. It was like when they staged boxing matches there – but it was poetry. The feeling wasn’t competitive, it was collaborative. There were no props, no platform. It was an astonishing one-off; I remember Ginsberg and Corso reading, Michael Horovitz wearing one of those Breton, French onion seller’s shirts, and Adrian Mitchell’s ‘Tell Me Lies about Vietnam.’ There was a tremendous buzz and sense of occasion.”
David spent time on other pursuits as well, getting involved in politics with the local Green party and residents groups in West Drayton, playing bowls, volunteering for charity organisations, and attending many cultural events in London and elsewhere. He was always looking for new experiences: in 2016 he headed off for a stint as philosopher in residence for a month at a fishing village on the east coast of Iceland.
While he was still living in Yorkshire his wife Gail suffered early onset Alzheimer’s, and spent her final years in a care home. Her death hit David very hard. But he enjoyed a widespread family network, and there was an excellent turnout when he celebrated his 80th birthday in an Islington pub in 2019. Since then he had also been blessed by the late and wonderful arrival of two grandchildren, with another one on the way. He proudly displayed a picture of his first grandchild at a Write Out Loud Woking gathering held on Zoom during lockdown.
Although his health suffered during lockdown, and he spent a period in hospital, he was slowly recovering and beginning to socialise again.
He leaves a daughter, Lydia, a son, Felix, and two grandchildren.
A funeral service will take place in the Chapel at the City of London Cemetery at 10.30 am on 29 March followed by a burial in their woodland burial area at 11. The address is: City of London Cemetery, Aldersbrook Road, London E12 5DQ
David's children Lydia and Felix are setting up a poetry bursary in memory of their father and mother. They said: "Inspired by Dad’s love of poetry and the encouragement and support that both our parents gave us to live creative lives and follow creative careers, we have set up a bursary to support promising young poets. If you would be interested in donating to this in their memory, then you can find the details here. If you were thinking of sending flowers to the funeral, maybe you could donate to the fund instead as this will be a lasting memory of our parents."
PHOTOGRAPHS: GREG FREEMAN / WRITE OUT LOUD
You can see David read a few of his poems at Write Out Loud Woking here
Wed 23rd Mar 2022 09:49
Really sorry to hear this. I met David a few times when I first started writing poetry 25 years ago and he still lived in Yorkshire. Although I haven’t seen him for years I did exchange messages with him several times via WOL and he always remembered who I am. He will be greatly missed in the poetry community.
Fri 11th Mar 2022 14:02
Hung out with David at Aldeburgh a couple of times over the years. Nice chap who worked hard on this site. RIP
Thu 10th Mar 2022 10:58
Was so sorry to hear this news. I have such warm memories of David, from Marsden and from the time when I was actively involved in helping out with the site.
He was always such a gentleman and I am sure he will be sorely missed.
The eulogy is beautiful. It says it all.
Wed 9th Mar 2022 21:28
Thank you for these words, Howard. I didn't know about David's piano skills. He was certainly a remarkable chap, in so many ways. Our sincere condolences to you and all his family.
Wed 9th Mar 2022 17:22
David (known to many as Joe) was my brother-in-law, having married my sister Gail on my 19th birthday. We were close for some 54 years.
A remarkable, kind and extremely clever man. A gifted poet, a concert standard pianist, fluent French speaker and an exhilarating conversationalist and philosopher.
He cared brilliantly for my sister during her struggle with Alzheimers and was unfailingly generous to all.
We shall all miss him deeply; a lot of talent and human kindness to miss.
Wed 9th Mar 2022 10:02
Thanks for these warm comments about our dear comrade. I plan to read two of David's poems tonight at Write Out Loud Woking on Zoom, along with my own 'Backroom Boys' about the two of us. Then I thought: why not read a poem of David's at the open-mic every month, so that his poetry is not only not forgotten, but perhaps more widely appreciated? And I will.
Tue 8th Mar 2022 22:57
Excellent and heart felt tribute Greg. David was one of those characters who was a one-off. One you couldn't replace. Probably ten years since I last met him and very likely at Marsden Jazz Festival.
Tue 8th Mar 2022 19:48
Just reading this tonight and it has come as a shock. I met David only once at Julian's home in Marsden some years back now and found him a decent sort of bloke. A calm voice and a steady hand. My very best wishes and of course condolences to his family.
Tue 8th Mar 2022 19:02
I was so sorry to hear about David's passing. Although I didn't really know much about him he made a unique impression on me at poetry events and was vitally interested and helpful at the Write out Loud nights I shared with him. My experiences as a train spotter at West Drayton in the 60s were met with great approval by him.
He seemed very full of life on zoom readings and infused them with his quirky and original presence.
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