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That Awkward Age by Roger McGough
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That Awkward Age (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Roger McGough

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142683,257 (4)39
Member:PaulCranswick
Title:That Awkward Age
Authors:Roger McGough
Info:Viking (2009), Edition: First Edition; 1st printing., Hardcover, 96 pages
Collections:Your library, Poetry/Plays/Essays/Criticism
Rating:****
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That Awkward Age by Roger McGough (2009)

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TO ROGER McGOUGH

Larkin without the needless profanity,
Betjeman without the staid urbanity.
You talk to my age, you speak of my class
Irreverent and wise, but no, never crass.
Opinionated perhaps but no forced creed,
Wry wordsmithian wizardry indeed. ( )
3 vote PaulCranswick | Jan 12, 2013 |
The title of this latest collection of McGough's poems is taken from a line an earlier poem of his, 'Here I am', which is the book's epigraph:

At that awkward age now between birth and death
I think of all the outrages unperpetrated
opportunities missed.

These poems are clearly written by someone nearer to death than birth within that long 'awkward age'; quite a few are reflections on mortality ('Carpe Diem', 'Eternal Rest', 'I Am Not Sleeping', 'To Fy Final Poem' - in the latter McGough wonders wryly what kind of poem will be his last - or 'A Fine Romance' - which anticipates the effects of Alzheimers).

There is however plenty of life yet in this 70-something poet, and a lively playfulnes in evidence in many of his poems. Some are silly, some surreal, some self-deprecating, some sad. A cluster of poems are addressed to various inanimate objects - 'To Contact Lenses', 'To Bedtime Stories', 'To My Old Addresses'. Others (acknowleding the inspiration of Carol Ann Duffy's 'The World's Wife') give a voice to the less well known men in the lives of famous women (Monsieur Piaf, Mr Blyton, Lord Godiva, Mr of Arc).

As a sample of one of his more surreal moments, and his word play, here is part of 'The Dada Christmas Catalogue' - in the printed version, the lines are scattered randomly across the page:

Chocolate comb
Can-of-worms opener
One bookend
Solar powered sunbed
Abrasive partridges
Inflatable fridge
Set of nervous door handles
Overnight tea bag
Instant coffee table
Sly trombone
Pair of cheapskates
Mobile phone booth ...

McGough is not perhaps the most profound, certainly not the most complex of poets, but using accessible language with humour, poignancy and the occasional hint of something darker, he invites the reader to take a sideways look at some familiar, everyday subjects, delighting in the power of words to take us in new directions. ( )
1 vote gennyt | Oct 10, 2010 |
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Epigraph
At that awkward age now between birth and death

I think of all the outrages unperpetrated

opportunities missed.

'Here I am'
(Melting into the foreground, 1986)
Dedication
First words
To Meccano

Like me you were born in Liverpool.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Roger McGough's eagerly-awaited new collection is a powerful testament to the miraculous in the everyday. Here he builds us his world: one of chance encounters and embarrassing moments, of big questions and small wonders. Originally published: 2009.

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