Tony Walsh, the Longfella, is one of the UK’s most widely acclaimed professional poets; a writer and performer of remarkable breadth and depth, whose inspiring words regularly reach and inspire audiences of millions.
Manchester-Irish, working class and entirely self-taught, his powerful writing and electrifying performances have made him a regular on television and radio, much in demand for a huge range of high-profile occasions, and renowned internationally for the now iconic performance of his poem “This Is The Place” in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017.
Free-wheeling fearlessly from the personal to the political, the sacred to the profane, the comic to the cosmic, and bridging both the commercial and the counter-cultural, his writing is rooted in an ancient oral, folk tradition and uses centuries-old rhythms, whilst drawing on decades of rock and roll and a rare empathy born of a remarkable life story. A musical, accessible and thrilling mix which stirs the reader, the audience and the collective soul to a very rare degree.
Whether earning a standing ovation from a BAFTA audience, sharing arena and rock festival main stages with superstars, performing to packed sports stadiums, or writing for peak-time TV, this is a poet consistently blazing a dazzling web of trails where very few have gone before. From Belfast to Berlin, Wigan to Warsaw, Keswick to Kazakhstan and right across the UK and Ireland; in castles and cathedrals, in prisons, palaces and at punk festivals, in museums and music studios; in ancient libraries and modern theatres, from Park Lane hotels to Abbey Road Studios, from the very top of Blackpool Tower to the cellar bars of the underground arts scene, audiences have laughed, wept, cheered, risen to their feet, danced, hugged strangers and climbed onto chairs in mass singalongs. This tall figure, standing alone and using only the spoken word, can bring a huge concert hall to a stunned silence. Spines are tingled and goosebumps arise, sides are split and minds are blown, souls are stirred and memories are made. Pins are dropped and roofs are raised.
Much in demand as an educator, speaker, events host, creative facilitator and increasingly as a broadcaster, lyricist and librettist, Tony’s words are every bit as stirring on the page as they are on stage. His debut full collection “SEX & LOVE & ROCK&ROLL” (with the fiercely independent publisher Burning Eye, 2012) will be followed by the eagerly anticipated “Work/Life/Balance” due in 2022. Having worked in hundreds of schools and with BBC children’s tv, Tony recently signed a three book deal with a major publisher, Hachette, with further details of these exciting children’s picture books to be announced soon.
Born into poverty, ill as a child, writing poetry from the age of five, raised on a council estate, unemployed in the 80s; a former factory worker and Post Office clerk, tied up at gunpoint in an armed robbery, living with anxiety and PTSD, becoming an inner-city housing officer before achieving senior roles at the forefront of social inclusion and community empowerment: Tony’s journey is a fascinating one – inspiring and profoundly moving for audiences of all kinds. He is now the founder and co-director of Longfella Ltd, an Ambassador for National Poetry Day UK, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a multi-award winning professional writer and performer, and a patron of several charities. He was awarded an honorary doctorate, becoming a Doctor of Letters, by The University of Salford in 2018. He lives in Manchester where his words have been graffitied onto walls, designed in mosaic, lasered into brick, sung, remixed, danced to, baked, embroidered, projected onto buildings, built into stadiums, planted into gardens, inked on to the skin of many and etched into the very soul of the city.
“Now a national hero…”
“The moment that went viral… the whole world is talking about it…”
“Some poets can make you laugh, some poets can make you cry, very few can do both. Tony Walsh is one such poet. Splitting your sides, breaking your heart and blowing your mind – beware, this guy should come with a health warning!”
Glastonbury Festival, 2011