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Les Barker

Les Barker in 2010. Photo by Simon Webster. Licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Flickr Commons.

Les Barker
Born January 30 1947 (1947-01-30) (age 72)
Manchester, England
Nationality Originally English, now claims Welsh nationality
Occupation Poet and performer

Les Barker (born 30 January 1947) is an English / Welsh poet. He is best known for his comedic poetry and parodies of popular songs; however he has also produced some very serious thought-provoking written work.

LifeEdit

Originally from Manchester, Barker trained in accountancy before his talent for the written word was discovered. Initially he toured around folk music venues as a solo performer, and later with The Mrs Ackroyd Band (named after his mongrel dog Mrs Ackroyd.) Les is not a singer and the Mrs Ackroyd Band with classically trained vocalists Hilary Spencer and Alison Younger, with keyboard player Chris Harvey have enabled Les's parodies to be performed live to enthusiastic response.

As well as touring Britain he has also performed in Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America, and Canada.

Poems, Parodies and Monologues Edit

He has published 76 books to date and has released (either as a solo performer or with his band) 20 albums. His books typically feature a mixture of monologues and comic songs, with a few serious songs. The monologues tip the hat to Marriott Edgar, who wrote many of the monologues performed by Stanley Holloway. Like Edgar, Barker has created several recurring characters and themes, including Jason and the Arguments, Cosmo the Fairly Accurate Knife Thrower, Captain Indecisive, The Far off Land of Dyslexia and Spot of the Antarctic. All of these have become trademarks of Barker's work. Both his funny and more serious songs have become standards for other singers such as Waterson:Carthy and June Tabor.

He is also remarkable as being one of the few writers to get the Welsh place named Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantisiliogogogoch into a song successfully (it forms the main chorus of a song of the same name, and is sung four times). Les has now taken up residence in Wales and is fully proficient in that language, producing two books of poetry written in the Welsh tongue.

He has remained firmly rooted in the circuit of folk clubs and festivals where he has a devoted following. Many other folk-poets and comedy writers like Mike Harding, Jasper Carrott, Billy Connolly and Max Boyce have moved into a mass media market, but Les Barker remains one among a few remaining comedy acts that still continue to work the folk circuit. Bernard Wrigley and Keith Donnelly are other examples and Les has recently performed as part of a double act with the latter under the name "Idiot and Friend".

Guide Cats for the Blind Edit

Barker wrote a poem called "Guide Cats for the Blind" which led to an unexpected development. The poem was heard by Clive Lever, a keyboard player and comedy songwriter from Maidstone, who is involved in an organisation called the "British Computer Association of the Blind" (BCAB). The Association runs a program called EyeT4all, which aims to make computers accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. Lever got in touch with Barker, who agreed to the poem being used as the title track of a double fundraising CD . Barker also agreed to the recording of a series of albums, in which his poems and songs would be recorded by artists from the folk world, but also by well known celebrities from the entertainment and theatrical world. Presenters from all 5 BBC Radio stations featured on the albums and so far between £40,000 and £50,000 has been raised.(Citation needed)

So far five "Guide Cats" albums have been produced, "Guide Cats for the Blind", "Missing Persians File", "Top Cat, White Tie and Tails", "Cat Nav", and "Herding Cats". The CDs contain performances of Les's poems by members of the folk world like June Tabor, Martin Carthy, Steve Tilston, Mike Harding and Tom Paxton but also well known figures like Jimmy Young, Nicholas Parsons, Brian Perkins, Terry Wogan, Nicky Campbell, Robert Lindsay, Prunella Scales and Andrew Sachs.

Recent Developments  Edit

Shortly after a heart attack in January 2008, Barker began solo gigging again.[1]

He has also, since taking up residence in Wales, become fluent in the native tongue. In 2008 he was awarded the NIACE Inspire Award as Welsh Learner of the Year,[2] and recited his poem "Have you Got Any News of the Iceberg?" in Welsh at the presentation in Swansea.

In 2009, a campaign by his folk fanbase sought to have him chosen as the British Poet Laureate.[3]

PublicationsEdit

  • Her Master's Book. Manchester, UK: privately published, 1976.
  • Paws for Thought. Manchester, UK: privately published, 1977.
  • Rock Climbs on the North York Moors. Leicester, UK: Cordee, 1985.
  • Airedale. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Bark Odes. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Bark to Front. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Beagles, Bangles and Beads. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Beyond Our Cairn. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • The Boogie Woogie Beagle Boy from Company B. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Les Barker Proudly Presents the Borzoy Ballet. Manchester, UK: Mrs Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • The Borzoi's Back in Town. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • The Boxer Rebellion. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Break the Mole. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Collieflowers. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Corgasm. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Corgi and Bess. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Dachshunds With Erections Can't Climb Stairs
  • Dog Byte. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Dog Gone. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Dog Only Nose. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Doggerel. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • The English Book of Penguin Folk Songs. [Wrexham?], UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Extra Terrierestrial. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Fetlar. Manchester, UK: privately published, [2003?]
  • The First Mutt is the Cheapest. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Get a Dog and Barker Yourself. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • The Green Eye of the Little Yellow Dog. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • The Hound of Music. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • The Hound of the Basketballs. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • I Camel, I Saw, I Conker. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • I Hear the Sound of Distant Plums. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Illegal Annual. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Irritable Bow-Wow Syndrome. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Jack Spaniel's. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • King Charles Spaniel. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Labrador Rigby. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Lady & the Trampoline. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Mastiff Central. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Mrs. Ackroyd's Diary. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • O Camel Ye Faithful. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • The Official Retriever. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Pekinese Up Mother Brown. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Pup Yours. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • A Quite Short Goat and a Pink Dalmatian. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Red Setters in the Sunset. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Reign of Terrier. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Rover the Hills and Far Away. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Roverdance: The poems. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Royders of the Lost Ack. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Sitting With My Dog on Display. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Something to Sniff At. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Songs for Swingin' Tails. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Spaniel in the Lion's Den. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Spencer's Dog Rover. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • The First Mutt is the Cheapest. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • The Stones of Callanish. [2003?]
  • A Tail of Two Setters. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Upper Cruft. Manchester, UK: privately published, [1980?]
  • Vincent Van Dogh. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Viva a Spaniel. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Vodabone. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Waiting for Dogot. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Werneth Willie Ackroyd. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]
  • Wolfhound Amadeus Mozart. Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprises, [2003?]


Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[4]

Guide Cats For The Blind - Les Barker

Guide Cats For The Blind - Les Barker

Sex is Better Than Poetry-Les Barker

Sex is Better Than Poetry-Les Barker

Les Barker - Déja Vu

Les Barker - Déja Vu

Les Barker.1

Les Barker.1.The shipping forecast

Audio / videoEdit

AlbumsEdit

  • A Cardi and Bloke (CD). Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Records, 1995.
  • Airs of the Dog (CD). Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Records, 2001.
  • An Infinite Number of Occasional Tables
  • Arovertherapy
  • Dark Side of the Mongrel
  • Dog 017 Yelp!
  • Dogologues
  • Earwigo
  • Gnus & Roses
  • Guide Cats for the Blind (CD). Osmosys, 2003.
  • Herding Cats: Guide cats for the blind, volume 5 (CD). Osmosys, 2011.
  • The Mrs. Ackroyd Rock'n'Roll Show
  • Mrs. Ackroyd: Superstar! (CD). Free Reed, 2007.
  • Oranges & Lemmings
  • Probably the Best Album Ever Made by Anybody in Our Street
  • Some Love
  • The Missing Persians File
  • The Stones of Callanish
  • The War on Terrier
  • Top Cat, White Tie and Tails
  • Tubular Dogs
  • Twilight of the Dogs
  • Up the Creek without a Poodle (CD). Manchester, UK: Mrs. Ackroyd Records, 1996.
  • The Wings of Butterflies
  • Yelp!

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/r2music/folk/news/ BBC, LES BARKER WINS WELSH AWARD [21/05/08]
  2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/r2music/folk/news/ LES BARKER WINS WELSH AWARD [21/05/08]
  3. Vote Les as our very own Poet Laureate?!, 31 March 2009, BBC North East Wales Weblog
  4. Search results = au:Les Barker, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Aug. 24, 2015.

External linksEdit

Poems
Audio / video
About
Etc.
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