An expert on Irish-Liverpool history is set to launch his first poetry book to coincide with the Liverpool Irish Festival this week.
Greg Quiery, who is originally from Northern Ireland, has been working on ‘A Stray Dog, Following’ for seven years recounting stories of Liverpool people and his memories of a bygone Ireland.
The collection of poems follows his comprehensive account of the history of Irish Liverpool published in 2017 and deals with many different subjects ranging from Liverpool today, the environment and politics, and looking back to his years in Ireland.
Quiery said: “When I finished the book, I thought ‘I just want a little bit of freedom to write whatever I want’. When you are writing a poem, you can write on any subject; you can put any character in there.
“I’ve got a poem about a relative of mine who was in the bombing of Belfast during the second world war. She was a nurse, but, in the poem, she is in the ambulance service. It’s based on fact but I don’t have to have the exact same details. There’s a great freedom in that, and that’s what made me think of writing some poetry after the book.”
Quiery came to Liverpool in 1970s and never left. He says the Emerald Isle has changed in all sorts of forms since then with a more liberal outlook addressing issues like divorce and abortion, and the rise of an environmental movement. The poems deal with contemporary issues with a nostalgic look to the past.
“There was a way of live that is now disappearing, which if you are my age, you can still remember. You can still try to recall some of that in the writing,” he said.
These memories are conveyed by his creative use of the English language, which has been praised by Ciarán Hodgers from the Writing on the Wall festival and Sarah MacLennan, the Head of the Creative Writing programme at Liverpool John Moores University. They highlight Quiery’s ability to use witty, lively words and expressions in his uplifting poems.
“It does take a lot of thought,” he said. “To write something that’s funny is extremely difficult. The frightening thing about it is that you don’t know if it is funny or not until you stand in front of an audience.”
‘A Stray Dog, Following’ will be launch on Wednesday October 21 in an online event organised by the Liverpool Irish Festival which takes place throughout this week. Attendees to the event will be able to enjoy a live reading of the book and ask questions. They also will be able to buy the book at an exclusive price of £6 from Stairwell Books. The book is also available from News from Nowhere on Bold Street.