VIDEO: Wigan poet enjoys stunning comeback

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A Wigan poet who put down his pen for decades is savouring an impressive comeback.

John Wilmington has been enjoying increasing success on the open mic circuit in the North West after first trying his hand at Wigan’s Old Courts a few years ago.

John Wilmington

John Wilmington

He has now been asked to read some of his work on the radio, will appear for the first time at this year’s Wigan Diggers Festival and is in the early stages of talks with a US publisher.

Sadly it was initially a personal tragedy that inspired John to put pen to paper again as he started keeping a diary after his wife Patericia died in 2013.

He had published a book of poems back in 1969 as a young literature enthusiast but had then become too busy with family life and a career teaching English in secondary schools to devote time to creative writing.

The Swinley 71-year-old said: “It was from keeping the diary that I started to write some poems. All of a sudden it now seems to have taken off.

“I’m now on the circuit for open mics in the North West. The crowd at The Old Courts really welcomed and encouraged me and I enjoyed it. I now go to ones in Liverpool and Bolton and to the events at Edge Hill University.

“My poems are quite eclectic but predominantly quite dark. Some are about death, about living, about sunshine, about politics. It’s whatever catches my attention at any particular time.”

John’s poetry draws on a wealth of experience, some of it drawn from teaching in classrooms in Lytham for many years. He is a keen music fan and in his younger days founded a successful Wigan folk and arts promotion which eventually grew into a rock organisation bringing iconic names such as Iron Maiden and Budgie to the borough.

John has also performed his verses in recent years in unusual locations including a company boardroom and a care home.

But he says he is looking forward to joining in the annual Wigan town centre celebration to 17th century radical thinker Gerrard Winstanley.

He said: “There are four of us performing and I was delighted they accepted my application. I’m still thinking what I will recite. I think most of the other poets will be doing quite political stuff so I will probably do something different. However, I will include one political poem I wrote a couple of years ago as it is about Gerrard Winstanley, which will obviously be quite appropriate for the occasion.”

John’s poems have attracted interest from publishers Stateside but is not too bothered if a deal does not emerge. He said: “I’m not a fan of vanity publishing where you have to pay to get your books out. If anyone wants to publish me then by all means they can, but I don’t have the aspiration some younger people do who just want something on the page.”