Podcast TTT Poetry Season 4 Shehanne Moore William McGonagall

Season 4 Episode 36:  Shehanne Moore on Dundee’s Famous Poet, William McGonagall

“I may say Dame Fortune has been very kind to me by endowing me with the genius of poetry.”

William McGonagall, The Autobiography of Sir William Topaz McGonagall
Parisian Photo Co, Edinburgh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Welcome to Tea, Toast and Trivia.

Thank you for listening in.  

I am your host; Rebecca Budd and I am looking forward to sharing this moment with you.

Join me as I travel virtually to Broughty Ferry, Scotland, Dundee’s Historic Seaside Village, to meet up with my friend, writer, and publisher, Shehanne Moore. Shehanne has given us exciting historical romances – O’Roarke’s Destiny, His Judas Bride, Loving Lady Lazuli, The Unraveling of Lady Fury, and the list goes on.

As many of you know, Shehanne, has extensive knowledge of classical literature.  A few months ago, she introduced me to William McGonagall, one of Scotland’s best-known poets. I confess that I had never heard this name before. 

William McGonagall was the son of working-class Irish handloom weavers. He was born in 1825 in Edinburgh and raised in Dundee.  Some say that William McGonagall was the worst poet ever to commit pen to paper and yet, his poetry has never been out of print since his death in 1902. His influence is seen in the works of Spike Milligan, The Muppet Show, Terry Pratchett, and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Who was William McGonagall?  Why was his poetry deemed “the worst?”  Was he a fool or a genius?  These are the questions that will be discussed today.

I invite you to put the kettle on and add to this exciting discussion on Tea Toast & Trivia.

Thank you, Shehanne for introducing me to an unforgettable poet who persevered despite ridicule by those who looked down on his lowly station and humble verse.  The more I read about William McGonagall, the more I see his brilliance.

The poem “Attempted Assassination of the Queen” by Knight of the White Elephant of Burmah, William McGonagall can be access on the following link:

Attempted Assassination of the Queen

Thank you for joining Shehanne and me on Tea Toast & Trivia.

I invite you to meet up with Shehanne on WordPress, Pinterest, and Twitter. You are only an internet click away from being swept away on a daring adventure.

I invite you to click on the photo below for a preview of O’Roarke’s Destiny.

Until next time we meet, dear friends, safe travels wherever your adventures take you!

Shehanne Moore on Dundee’s Famous Poet, William McGonagall Tea. Toast. & Trivia.

By Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

92 replies on “Season 4 Episode 36:  Shehanne Moore on Dundee’s Famous Poet, William McGonagall”

FAB interview, Rebecca and Shey!
I’d never heard of William McGonagall, ether… Rebecca!

Egged, refusing to die in MacBeth… LOL!!!
Unparalleled bad poetry in today’s world would mean great poetry, in the sense that bad is good in slang.

Listening to it for a second time. What a character!
Wrong reasons… but he packed them in!
Love the “sir” controversy! Seems he could turn anything into something more.
His life is a white elephant.

“Attempted Assassination of the Queen” reading evoked a sense of “Rocky Racoon” by the Beatles.

This is a most delightful podcast! Thank you AD RB & AGM Shey.

Liked by 4 people

Wasn’t Shey absolutely amazing, Resa!!! Shey has deep knowledge of the classics, history, poetry and societal norms. That is why her books are so real and authentic to the time of the narrative. The way she recited William McGonagall’s poem gave me goosebumps.

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Shey IS amazing. Her accent made the poem recitation feel wonderfully authentic.
IMHO this is your best Podcast, so far.
It’s so entertaining. Love Shey’s books, read all but 1.
Rebecca, you are an ALL arts curator.

#2 fave – is the podcast with Dave Astor about his cat Misty!
Never a dull moment here! {{hugs}}

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They seem that way to me!
I feed the cats, clean the litter, pay the vet, buy them treats & toys, brush them, pet them, scratch them, they sleep in the bed, Jeep has her own pillow and another special daytime bed. Johnny sleeps in his birth closet on a pillow I made from feathers from my baba’s pierzyna.
In return, I get fur. Johnny is a fancy boy, massive neck ruff (I have to cut it or he drowns in it) a wildly fluffy tutu, thick pettipants and a plume of fur tail.
Let me know if you need any fur tumbleweeds?
Now, I’ll go change litter!

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Resa xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Uhm if you had heard Rebecca and me kind of croaking through that interview with gammy throats now..Well… Don did a great job there. I had never read that poem but hey there is a first time for everything. I’ve never liked my voice. But thank you and for your kind words re my books. I know you are a stalwart to me xxxxxxx

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Your voice is fab! It’s my voice that’s not good. Yes, Don does a great job, he even made me sound good!
Adore your books! Yes…yes… I’m a stalwart, as long as it has nothing to do with warts! xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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We actually did that Macbeth scene and will be doing it again next year in the Mr’s play about weaving in Dundee. In keeping with it being McG, we had a Japanese style sword fight, and before he had to get himself to the theatre to play Macbeth a line dance… don’t ask

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I agree, Colleen – Shey’s recitation is outstanding and captures the essence of the poem. Her phrasing was impeccable. When poetry is given voice, there is a depth of feeling that comes to the listener. As you said in a recent post – poetry tells a story that goes deep to the soul. Thank you for listening in!!!

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Marina, xxxxxxxxxxxx, that is a very kind comment. My family would tell you they hear my voice and get goosebumps too. For different reasons ! I didn’t expect to be reading that poem. Rebecca had said, she must ask me to do a little reading. WHen she started reading, I thought, ‘ Thank God.’ For a minute anyway. So I am glad you liked it. Don did a great job of the techie things and Rebecca is a fab hostess, she really is

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I am delighted you listened in, Tim! I am so excited with Shey’s recitation and her ability to capture the voice of William McGonagall. Epic – that is the best word to describe Shey’s recitation. I imagined William listening in on our conversations.

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Ha. We were talking about you can’t make this stuff up. I’m working on a land use plan for a chapter on the Navajo Reservation. I was reading an article that mentioned a woman who worked for the chapter embezzled $35,000. She was fired so she took the chapter’s checkbook with her and continued writing herself checks after she was fired. The chapter ordered her to repay the money, but she didn’t They can’t get certified to get federal funding until the $35,000 is repaid. The article mentioned they had reduced the amount owed to $29,000 “from the little things like people taking showers!”

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I am delighted you enjoyed this conversation, Dan. What I found amazing was society’s reaction to poetry during the time of William McGonigall. Poetry seemed to be a rallying call. Shey’s recitation was stellar – I had goosebumps listening to her voice reciting the poem.

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A delightful podcast, Rebecca and Shehanne — including the EXPERT reciting! William McGonagall was quite a character. (I wonder if J.K. Rowling named Professor Minerva McGonagall after him in the “Harry Potter” books?) Sometimes, brilliant self-promotion is as important as brilliant talent.

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Dave – I knew you would enjoy this podcast. A few months back, Shey told me that Mary Shelley lived for a time in Dundee. It seems that Dundee is the literature hot-spot for literature. And by the way, did you know that it was May Shelley’s birthday on August 30!!

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Many thanks for introducing me to “The Last Man”, Dave. This is the first I heard of that book. I was able to download it via Gutenberg Press. The introduction started with this remarkable sentence. I am already there with Mary and her companion….

“I visited Naples in the year 1818. On the 8th of December of that year, my companion and I crossed the Bay, to visit the antiquities which are scattered on the shores of Baiæ.”
Excerpt From
The Last Man
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Liked by 1 person

Great passage, Rebecca! I guess the novel does have a small portion set in Mary Shelley’s present day. One interesting thing about the book is that the three major characters are partly based on Mary Shelley (even though the character is a man), Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Byron.

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Yes she did..finally after a hectic week last week, I have time!! The Godwins had connections with the Dundee Baxter family who owned textile mills and she came north, I think to get away from London for a bit probably finding the home atmosphere of the ‘Claimont’ step mother and the sister quite difficult. The Baxters had what was called the Cottage-prob a localism after the cottage in the Frankenstein book, cos what they had would be anything but a cottage–and Mary seemed to get the freedom to do what she liked –there was daughter her age. Indeed she credits Dundee with being the place her fancy took flight. At that time the Dundee she came to was nothing like now or that it became when jute arrived It was a place of coffee houses, books and radical thinking. Where the’ cottage’ would have been at that time, was away slightly from the town centre, high on the Tay banks, across from where Baxter Park now is. The family also had property in Newburgh across the river and Mary stayed there too. Dundee was also a city of whalers and shipbuilding. Whatever state the ships came home in having been crushed in ice often, they came home. People would line the banks and the dock when they did. So I am assuming that a lot of things here were squirreled away by Mary when you think of the bits when Victor goes after his creation. Robert Browning mother was also born here, her father ran the sugar house.

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So, I have been invited to beautiful Scotland to listen to Shehanne and Rebecca discuss the famous Poet, William McGonagail. In many places and for many years, this poet was not considered outstanding, but recently, his poems have been heard and treasured worldwide and quoted in many places such as The Muppet Show and others. Early, he experienced poverty, but he was energetic and not a person to accept his “lot in life”, but learning in various ways, putting his knowledge and ability to work, by writing at least 200 outstanding poems. William had a way of putting the experiences of the event into the words he chose. At the time, his work was considered “dreadful”, but he had a gift of presentation and when he eventually became known, he then was able to make money. He also was able to promote himself, which he did unashamedly, even presented his own work including his spelling mistakes! He was proud of his own work, even presenting one of his to the Queen. He also published his own work on street corners and even ventured to New York, which was not a success. He is know by the term “Sir”, but this term is not considered historical. But he was know as “The Knight of the White Elephant”. He loved the Queen and made every effort to visit her. He even wrote a poem to her, touching on the subject of an attempted murder attempt. This person, not previously know to me, has become an individual that I will read and study about in the future.

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AWWW. He was certainly fascinating as you can see and not good at taking ‘NO’ for an answer. The thing is he has caused great controversy and been ridiculed but as you can see, his life was certainly colourful. Thank you so much for listening and commenting.

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I am delighted that you enjoyed this podcast conversation. I am fascinated by the poetry of William McGonagall and was thrilled when Shey recited William McGonagall’s poem. I explored more of the history behind the attempted assassination of Queen Victoria and was surprised to find that there were 8 assassination attempts.

William McGonagall’s poem was about the the last attempted which occurred on March 2nd 1882 by twenty-eight-year old Roderick Maclean. This is from the Historic UK Website: “The Queen was being serenaded with cheers from the nearby crowd of Etonians as she departed from Windsor Station towards the Castle. Then Maclean fired a wild shot at the Queen which missed. He was arrested, charged and committed to trial where he was sentenced to the rest of his life in an asylum.”

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How exciting to find Shey here as your guest today Rebecca. I’m enjoying learning about William McGonagell while listening to Shey. I love that a poet went against the norms in times where it wasn’t acceptable. Of course I’m
curious now to check out more of his poetry. I came across his sad tale of the Little Match Girl. I never knew much about him before learning that tale of the match girl long ago. What a fascinating man he would have been to interview. Fantastic episode today listening to you both! Hugs Rebecca and Sistah SheyGoth ❤ xxxx

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Thank you so much for joining the conversation, Debby. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go back in time and tell William McGonagall that his poetry is thriving in today’s world. As Shey said so well – he persevered when others would have given up.

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I am delighted that you enjoyed this conversation, Teagan. William McGonagall, like many other remarkable individuals (consider Vincent Van Gogh) will never imagine how much they have given to the world. This is what William McGonagall experienced when he had the “ah ha” moment that compelled him to write poetry.

“I was seized with a strong desire to write poetry, so strong, in fact, that in imagination I thought I heard a voice crying in my ears –”Write! Write”I wondered what could be the matter with me, and I began to walk backwards and forwards in a great fit of excitement, saying to myself– “I know nothing about poetry.” William McGonagall

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HI Rebecca, I have heard of William McGonagall and his terrible poetry. I can’t remember where, but I do remember his story being interesting. It was great to revisit a little of his history and very entertaining to hear Shey recite some of his poetry. You do a great job, but Shey’s accent was prefect for this piece.

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I agree, Robbie. Shey’s recitation is brilliant!!! I have invited her to come back to recite William McGonagall’s poetry on TTT. I think she would be amazing reciting Robert Burns. I am delighted you enjoyed this conversation!!!

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Oh my goodness, Robbie you are too kind. I seriously crawl up and sit at Rebecca’s feet when she recites. Her voice is THAT good. Sorry for the late reply. The Mr was having big birthday bash last Friday night 65 people. And I have not catered for that amount for years–legally the function suite was one of the few there to let you bring your own food, so we did! But boy what with all our other commitments, it got hectic shall we say. But lovely to come by today and follow up. Thank you again xx

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This was such an enjoyable conversation! I do remember checking out his poetry on Internet Archive after your previous conversation, in which he was mentioned. Talk about a man ahead of his time! As Shey said, social media was made for him! Listening to the recitations, I was reminded of a lecture in a British Lit class in which the prof discussed William Wordsworth’s poem “The Idiot Boy”–and not in a good way. He referred to the poem’s meter as “dog trot rhythm.” So, is it damning with faint praise to say that McGonagall’s poetry was as good as the bad poetry of a great poet?

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Liz – you have a wonderful way of phasing thoughts. I laughed out loud when I read: McGonagall’s poetry was as good as the bad poetry of a great poet? I was reading a 2018 Guardian article that promised “How to read poetry like a professor.”

Perhaps it would be best to read poetry like a human, with a profound sense that we are witnessing a thought that has come through time and speaks to our now, to know that we are not alone. I enjoy poetry in public domain, because it gives me great understanding for the poetry of today.

My concern it that people hesitate to recite poetry. I certainly did! I recited poetry to an empty room for several years before I recited it in nature. You were the one who inspired me to record my recitations. So my deepest thanks for your support and encouragement.

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Well, indeed Liz–and sorry for the late reply but last week got a bit hectic shall we say with certain Mr’s B/day bash– his poetry does get held up as glowing example of how NOT to write. And there’s plenty sneeriness to this day– some of that from the local council who were most certainly not erecting any statue to him– but the fact is he’s still out there. As I said, I think you have to judge not against his academic poetry peers, many from comfortable backgrounds, but his situation, and the cheek by jowl dire poverty he came from and lived in. The city had the highest infant mortality rate in Europe at that time. It was also ‘women’s town’ where the women were the breadwinners cos they were cheaper to employ, it was the Juteopolis of the ‘ British Empire.’ So he was trying to claw his way out of that and he really as ahead of his time in the way he did it too!

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I loved your photographs of Scotland, Darlene. I felt I was there with you. Travel opens us to the stories of a place. I am delighted that you enjoyed this conversation and Shey’s recitation. I just learned a few minutes ago that our beloved Queen has passed. I will miss her Christmas speeches. Sending hugs!!

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