Tony Walsh gives poetic verdict on election result alongside Carol Ann Duffy
It began when Tony Walsh read his poem about Manchester, ‘This is The Place’, at the vigil for the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena suicide bombing. Tony’s reading went round the world. He was asked to perform it again at the One Love Manchester memorial concert performed by Ariana Grande and a host of other stars at Old Trafford cricket ground, which happened to be held a few hours after the further terrorist atrocities in London. And now Tony has appeared in the Guardian newspaper – alongside the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy – with his poem ‘Net Worked’ commenting on the surprise result of the 2017 general election.
In his poem Tony points to the effect that the number of young people who turned out to vote had on the result: “… energised, politicised young people knew full it /was their time to stand in line and call out bullshit when they smell it / So they crossed out lies and crossed out hate and brought their cross to bear / After scrolling through the polling booths to the box that seemed to care / About poverty, equality, and justice and awareness / and community and unity, opportunity and fairness”.
Tony, who has long been described as the unofficial poet laureate of Manchester, may be seeing that title reaching much, much further. On his Facebook page he said: “Three high-profile writing jobs came in last week, all to be delivered across this weekend and the first half of next week. The Guardian thing is on 300k views in 24 hours but I've had to move onto the next thing now.”
Speaking on Woman’s Hour last week, poet Jacqueline Saphra said of the impact that ‘This is The Place’ had in expressing Manchester’s grief: “I think that poetry is a secular form of prayer … people turn to poetry now when they don’t turn to God.”
Meanwhile Carol Ann Duffy’s poem about the election result was also published in the Guardian on Saturday. Titled ‘Campaign’, it ran under a picture of Theresa May and concluded: “When she woke, her nose was bloody, difficult. / The furious young / ran towards her through the fields of wheat.”