Charity book inspired by Tony Walsh's Manchester poem

Charity book inspired by Tony Walsh's Manchester poem

Manchester’s creative community is fundraising to produce a book inspired by Tony Walsh's poem, This is the Place, to help those affected by the terror attack in which 22 people were killed in the city last Monday (22nd May).

A group of artists will collaborate on the volume, which is inspired by the vigil held the day after the attack. Manchester-based Walsh read his poem "This is the Place" during the vigil and now a group of creatives based in the city including designers, illustrators and photographers will respond to a line in the poem, with all proceeds going to charity.  

Walsh’s poem is a tribute to the city of Manchester and begins: “This is the place/ In the north-west of England. It’s ace, it’s the best" and ends: "Because this is the place in our hearts, in our homes/Because this is the place that’s a part of our bones/Because Manchester gives us such strength from the fact/That this is the place. We should give something back.”  

Jeanette Winterson wrote in the Guardian that Walsh's work "gives us back the words we need".

Contributors include designers Peter Saville and Malcolm Garret as well as design agencies and independent artists, photographers and illustrators. It will include forewords from Walsh as well as Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

Walsh said: “I wrote This is the Place four years ago for Forever Manchester, a charity that’s very close to my heart. However, when I was asked to perform it for the vigil, I realised the words had taken on a new depth and poignancy. After such a devastating and tragic event, I hope that this poem now acts as a symbol of pride, passion and defiance of Manchester's people and as a beacon of hope for the future. When the guys approached me to make the book I had no hesitation. It's a great idea, excellent stuff, done for the right reasons. Choose love.”

The profile of the poet, also known as Longfella, has risen dramatically since performing the poem last week. He now has more than 15,000 Twitter followers and his 2015 collection, Sex & Love & Rock & Roll, (Burning Eye Books) is at number 3 in Amazon’s poetry charts.

The project is partnering with Forever Manchester - which supports community activity - as well as the Manchester Evening News' fundraising initiative for the attack's victims and the Mayoral fund for homelessness.

Creative director at video production agency Doodledo Motion, James Torry, is leading the project. He said: "The idea came after hearing Tony's poem. It gave a city that was struggling to know what or how to feel some language to articulate it. It gave us permission to feel sadness, defiance, hurt, anger and perhaps most importantly, humour. We have such a strong creative community in the city and I saw this as a way for us to come together, collaborate and make something for Manchester that was hopeful for the future."

Manchester's mayor, Burnham, added: “I don’t think there was anyone that wasn’t moved by Tony’s eloquent and cathartic words on Tuesday evening. Just when we needed a voice of defiance and someone to articulate a sense of Manc pride and self-belief Tony stepped forward.” 

He praised the speed of the group’s planning: “It’s fitting that the creative community in Manchester should rally so quickly and with such a perfect timing.”

The bombing on 22nd May killed 22 people and injured 120 at the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande. The day after the attack, Manchester-based publishers spoke of their somberness, with Michael Schmidt, managing director of Carcanet Press, telling The Bookseller: “It brings back 1996 and the big IRA bomb, though given the loss of life this is much worse in human terms.”

To register for pre-orders of the book, visit thisistheplacebook.com.