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Henry Normal: Travelling Second Class Through Hope

Better known as co-writer of award-winning TV and film shows such as The Royle Family, The Mrs Merton Show, The Parole Officer, Coogan’s Run and Paul Calf, and producer of, amongst many others, Oscar-nominated Philomena, Gavin and Stacey, Moone Boy, Uncle and Alan Partridge, Henry Normal started his writing career as a poet.

Born in Nottingham, Henry’s writing career blossomed during his time in Manchester. He set up the Manchester Poetry Festival in the nineties, which continues to this day having widened to become the Manchester Literature Festival. In 2016 he set up the Nottingham Poetry Festival, now an annual event.

In the early eighties he performed at pop concerts, cabaret and comedy clubs, folk clubs, jazz clubs, factories, hospitals, schools and poetry events. Henry toured with Pulp in their early days and later with Lemn Sissay and I am Kloot’s John Bramwell, then called Johnny Dangerously.

Henry performed full runs at the Edinburgh Festival with Hattie Hayridge, Linda Smith, and his one man show ‘Encyclopedia Poetica’ – later to become a 4 part BBC Radio 4 series.

Spotted at Edinburgh, Henry was given a six episode Channel 4 series called Packet of Three, co-starring Frank Skinner and Jenny Eclair. He has since worked on over 400 TV and radio shows and films, as either script editor or producer or both.

In 2016 Henry was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Nottingham Trent University.

Since his first book Is Love Science Fiction? in 1986 he had eight further books published up to 1994. In 2016, after an absence of 22 years, Henry published Staring Directly at the Eclipse and has begun performing poetry again at major Literature Festivals. His recent Radio 4 shows A Normal Family and A Normal Life were much acclaimed and a third Radio Show A Normal Love will be transmitted on Valentine’s Day 2018.

Travelling Second Class Through Hope contains seventy poems personally selected from his early collections.

“Dovetails bittersweet poetry with a sublimely observant wit” – Guardian

“The Alan Bennett of Poetry” – The Scotsman

“The nerd triumphant” – Manchester Evening News

“A gentle giant of stand-up poetry” – List

“In amongst his work lie some of the most tender, compassionate and moving pieces I have read from a modern poet” – Artful Reporter

“The enfant terrible of alternative poetry” – Leeds Other paper

“Witty and uncannily accurate with his observations” – The Stage

“Distinctly funny” – Time Out