Mike Garry was a librarian for 15 years before becoming a poet. His groundbreaking work with Manchester Libraries began with the development of Study Support Units or “Homework Centers” throughout Manchester’s local library network. The units were simply a safe space for young people to get help and support with homework with a strong emphasis on reading. But they were much more than that and quickly became hubs for creativity, support, literacy, and learning.
His work with young people in inner city Manchester won him awards from the Prince’s Trust and the National Literacy Trust and along with Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, and David Beckham; Mike became a Champion Reader recognized for his work in promoting reading to young people.
His poetry career began when he started to read his poems to the hundreds of young people he worked with during study sessions. They loved what they heard and encouraged him to perform at live poetry events and Slams, which he did, instantly winning prizes throughout the UK.
Mike started performing his poems in Prisons, Young Offenders units, Mental Health Hospitals, Children’s Homes, and local pubs. He was passionate about bringing live poetry to places it wouldn’t normally reach, giving people a voice and using poetry to be that voice.
Mike’s work focuses on the city and its people, championing the underdog and finding beauty amongst the ugliness and triumph amongst tragedy. Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays recently described Mike’s poetry as “The best street poetry I’ve ever heard” and iconic designer Peter Saville described Mike as a “genius”.
He was Poet in Residence at Strangeways Prison and has worked closely with Manchester United, the BBC, The Barclays Premier League, Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester Art Gallery, and works at literature festivals throughout the world.
His poetry is regularly heard on BBC Radio 5 Live, Radio 4, BBC Breakfast, Match of the Day, Sky TV and his work with Manchester United has truly elevated Mike’s poetry to an international audience.
Mike has toured with John Cooper Clarke for six years performing in over 500 venues throughout the UK, US, and Europe.
Mike recent musical collaborations include working with New Order and performing with Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, and the National in New York’s Carnegie Hall for the Tibet House Charity. This is where the classical composer Philip Glass first heard Mike and fell in love with his words and invited him to work collaboratively to create some new musical pieces. The combination of Mike’s poems and Philip’s music has been a great success with live performances in Europe and the US.
Mike’s collaboration with composer Joe Duddell has had amazing reviews and was the highlight of festivals throughout the summers of 2015 and 2016. His ode to Tony Wilson, “St. Anthony”, was number one in three official UK charts in August 2015 and the video was viewed by over a million people in its first month of release.
Mikes four books – Men’s morning, Mancunian meander, God is a Manc, and Men’s mournings have become schemes of work in hundreds of British schools, received wide critical acclaim and are regularly read on TV and radio.
A former student of the Manchester Metropolitan University, receiving a BA (Hons) in Library and Information Studies, Mike still does regular talks to students on this course, the creative writing course, and with trainee teachers, as well as working with 10,000 young people in schools throughout the UK.
Dr. Mike Garry is associate fellow and artist in residence at the University of Westminster and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2015.
“I love the poetry of Mike Garry. It is passionate, powerful and precise but most of all personal.” – Philip Glass
“Mike Garry walks like a man, talks like a man and writes like a great northern poet. That’s northern as in centre of the universe and poet as in words that go beyond words. Read him and leap for joy.” – Paul Morley
“Mike Garry’s poetry is brilliant”. – Bernard Sumner
“Mi compadre.” – John Cooper Clarke