Keith Hutson has written for Coronation Street and for many well-known comedians. He has published two much praised poetry pamphlets, Routines (in 2017) and Roupers (2018). His first book-length collection, BALDWIN’S CATHOLIC GEESE, looks at the delight and heartbreak of being human through the lens of beloved music hall and variety stars like Hylda Baker and Frankie Howerd, as well as less celebrated, now long-forgotten acts of the past: The Bryn Pugh Sponge Dancers, Macauley’s Leaping Infants, Willy Netta’s Singing Jockeys, and many more. Hutson’s vividly realised portraits bring back to life a whole cast of the extraordinary characters who have entertained us for over two centuries. Comedy is brought into sharp relief by hardship. His Baldwin’s Catholic Geese is a social history chronicle in poems, focusing on what it means for all of us who have to make the most of our luck – the good, the bad, and the bizarre.
Neil Astley filmed Keith Hutson reading a selection of his poems from BALDWIN’S CATHOLIC GEESE at his home in Halifax, West Yorkshire, on 9 February 2019. The poems he reads and introduces here are: ‘Double Act’, ‘Bad Impresario’ (i.m. William Paul 1820–1882), ‘Accept No Imitations’ (i.m. J D Plummer 1846–1901), ‘Coming On Strong’ (i.m. Joan Rhodes 1921–2010), ‘Out from Under’ (i.m. Kate Cheval 1832–1847), ‘Eleven, plus’ (for Freddie Parrot-Face Davies), ‘Confidence Trick’ (i.m. Felicitous Bob Franklin 1831–1878), ‘Hylda’ (for Hylda Baker, 1909–1986), ‘Engagement’ (for George Formby, 1904–1961), ‘Dun Roamin’’ (i.m. Gerald Butterworth 1857–1919), ‘Glasgow Empire’, ‘Caretaker’, ‘Roughage’ (i.m. Bombastus Furioso c. 1820), ‘The Audience’ (i.m. Les Dawson, 1931–1993), ‘Zazel, The Shooting Star! (i.m. Rosa Richter 1862–1922), ‘Le Petomane’ (i.m. Joseph Pujol 1857–1945), ‘Beyond Belief’ (i.m. Sid Field 1904–1950), ‘Chanteur’ (i.m. Charles Aznavour 1924–2018), ‘Soul Mates’ (i.m. Arthur Rickett d.1883), and ‘That’s Your Lot (i.m. Tubby Turner 1882–1947). BALDWIN’S CATHOLIC GEESE is published by Bloodaxe Books in February 2019. For more details see bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/product/baldwin-s-catholic-geese-1201