Peterloo Poets

Poetry Publishers 1972 - 2009

We are sorry to announce the death of John Whitworth 11.12.1945 to 20.04.19
Many of you will know John was a well loved and respected member of the Peterloo Poets “family” in its day and was a staunch Peterloo Poets supporter over the years.

The funeral will take place at Barham Crematorium Chapel at 12:40pm on Wednesday 22nd May
Barham Crematorium (CT4 6QU) is 9.6 miles (a 20 minute drive) from Canterbury, using the A2 to Dover.
No flowers, please, but any donations would be appreciated, in John’s name, to: Pilgrim’s Hospice, 56 London Road, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 8JA or online at www.pilgrimshospices.org

 Following his editorship of the poetry magazine Phoenix (1958 - 1975), Harry Chambers founded Peterloo Poets in Manchester in 1972.
Peterloo’s first two full collections published in 1976 were Elma Mitchell’s The Poor Man in the Flesh and Edmond Leo Wright’s The Horwich Hennets. Peterloo Poets went on to publish 240 volumes of poetry.

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Poems by Gary Geddes


“Skaldance is faultless. I like the narrative strategies, I marvel at them. And the way Geddes moves inside varieties of language, from the colloquial to quotation. And the novel's worth of characters.” - Robert Kroetsch

Skaldance weaves in and out of Orkney history the way wind, ocean, and invaders have shaped that unique Norse-Scottish landscape and culture. With wry, quiet humour or bold drama, Gary Geddes establishes connections with a people and a land where his forebears fished long ago.

An outsider with a stake in these remote northern islands, Geddes takes on the role of skald, the poet of Old Norse tradition, who reports on love, politics, and the past. He creates a polyphony of voices, some ironically detached, others passionately engaged. They tell of hardship and desire in comic vignettes, heartbreaking lyrics, or sagas of survival. Whether lighthearted or tragic, the poems in Skaldance are intelligent, witty, exquisitely crafted, and supple in their expression.

One of Canada's most respected men of letters, Gary Geddes has won the Gabriela Mistral Prize, the Archibald Lampman Prize, the National Magazine Gold Award, and the Americas Best Book Award in the Commonwealth Poetry Competition. Active Trading: Selected Poems 1970-1995 (Peterloo Poets, 1996) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

“Gary Geddes in undoubtedly the best of the contemporary Canadian poets I've read. Flying Blind is one of the best collections of poems published in English in recent years - not just Canada, but anywhere. His work is achieved technically; it is moving and, above all, it is interesting and accessible.” - Douglas Dunn


How I was Launched

Mother was a McGregor from Inverness,
a beanpole but ambitious. And tough as gorse.
She would not so much turn her head

as swivel her gaze so one eye peered at you
across the bridge of an aquiline nose.
My father was a short almost comic

figure from Exmoor whom she had met
while stationed in the Orkneys. She admired
the way he danced in foxtrot, swallowed

his vowels. His natural vulgarity
survived military service unscathed.
As a teenager I would nickname them

Jiggs and Maggie after the cartoon
characters, Maggie the great pretender
and social climber, Jiggs the constant

embarrassment with his top hat, cigar,
and bad manners, who was always ducking
out to eateries in Boston for a snack

of corned beef and cabbage. My father
finally persuaded her to sleep with him
in the summer of 1919 in a small cottage

overlooking Scapa Flow, where the German
fleet was anchored, awaiting the results
of the Versailles talks. She was sitting

upright in bed, the sheet to her shoulders
while he undressed, a cigarette in one hand.
As he stepped out of his bellbottoms

and dropped his underwear, not a bit shy
of his enthusiasm, she put her hand
over her mouth to suppress a Scream.

Behind him fifty-four ships, scuttled by
defiant crews who jammed open seacocks
and took to the boats, were listing at odd

angles in the glittering waves. My parents
stood in the window naked, his arm
around her hips, hers slung across his shoulders,

and watched. He flicked a benediction
of fine ash on the windowsill, looked down
at his wilted submariner, and laughed.


Price 9.00 per copy post free (6.00 post free to Associate Members)
Cover illustration: ‘Black Ladder’ © Martin Honisch, 1985
Publication: SUMMER 2004 (102 pages laminated paperback)