TV writer and producer Henry Normal returns to his poetry roots with Manchester book launch

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A leading writer, comedian and TV producer with credits such as The Royle Family and Gavin & Stacey is returning to his poetry roots with the launch of a collection of 70 poems selected from his early works.

Henry Normal will be launching Travelling Second Class Through Hope, published by Manchester’s Flapjack Press, at Manchester Central Library on Saturday 6 May from 6-8pm, supported by Genevieve L Walsh and Marvin Cheeseman. Entry is free.

In 1999, Henry Normal and Steve Coogan established their TV comedy production company, Baby Cow Productions, whose hits include Gavin & Stacey and The Mighty Boosh. He co-wrote The Royle Family with Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash.

Earlier in his career Normal toured with the band Pulp, and with Mark Atwood helped form the Live Poets Society, whose motto was "poetry so good you can actually understand it", performing in pubs and clubs throughout the north of England. At a 1987 poetry convention in Corby he performed with a paper bag over his head. Born in Nottingham, he set up the Manchester poetry festival in the 1990s, which became the Manchester literature festival. In 2016 he set up the Nottingham poetry festival, now an annual event.

Last year he quite Baby Cow in order to “take a long overdue break from TV and film production to pursue creative endeavours in other fields”. Later in the year he was performing his poetry at the Latitude festival. In an interview with the Yorkshire Post last month he said: “For 17 years poetry had to be put to one side because there just weren’t enough hours in the day. But then three things happened fairly close together - my brother died at the age of 61 of cancer, my dad died at the age of 90 and my son, who is autistic, reached 16. After that I started writing.” After leaving Baby Cow “I’m retired now and I am writing full time.”

Last year Normal also published a collection of new poems, Staring Directly at the Eclipse, with Nottingham’s Five Leaves Publications, which features poems from his BBC Radio 4 programme A Normal Family, and new and selected poetry from his performance work.

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