Farewell, John Togher: Write Out Loud Wigan's organiser to step down after 10 years at the helm
The organiser of Write Out Loud Wigan for the last 10 years, John Togher, is stepping down as organiser. His final stint in the role was on Thursday 11 January at the regular monthly night at the Old Courts.
Looking back, John said: “The night has changed considerably over the years, mainly since we moved from the raucous environment of the Tudor to the Old Courts. It's now a more relaxed evening with a constant flow of newcomers taking their first steps on the performance poetry scene. The audience is a lot quieter than years ago, despite numbers of audience members averaging over 40 over the year. “
He agreed that the open mic night at Wigan had its own special identity: “There's a distinct lack of pretention in Wigan. A lot of the public see poetry as being quite a pretentious and out of reach art form. In Wigan we have tried over the years to follow Write Out Loud's mission of making poetry accessible to all and I think we have achieved that. Everyone is accepted for who they are no matter what stage of their poetic journey they are at.”
Best memories over the years, stand-out performers? “The standout performers for me are always the first-timers. They come, nervous and a little unsure about what it's all about, but leave the stage full of enthusiasm for performing. We have always helped people and encouraged them; some go on to better and bigger, more prestigious stages, some dip their toe in every now and again.”
John added: “I'd like to say thank you to everyone that has supported the event over the time I've organised it. And to keep supporting it with Louise Fazackerley as organiser. She'll put her own stamp on the night and I'm sure will build on the foundations of a solid, supportive night and take it to new heights. I'll be popping back over the year as a punter and hopefully be getting out and about to other poetry events more around the north-west, something I haven't done for a few years.”
His immediate successor, renowned performance poet Louise Fazackerley – whose Wigan vowels were once praised by Ian McMillan, presenter of Radio 3’s The Verb – said: “John has been a powerhouse for the poetry scene in Wigan – a genuine inspiration and friendly, supportive man. Without John Togher myself and many others would not be writing and enjoying poetry.”
Louise is to run Write Out Loud Wigan for the next year: “This new year in Wigan I’d like more of the same friendship, fun and free verse with a couple more guest poets thrown in across the year from across the UK.”