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Selected in 2018 by Carol Ann Duffy as part of the Laureate's Choice Collection.


Troupers pays tribute to not only the stars of Music Hall and Variety, but also the forgotten artistes who were beloved in their time by the nation. Acts like Macauley’s Leaping Infants, The Bryn Pugh Sponge Dancers, Willy Netta’s Singing Jockeys and many more are revived to be celebrated again. We see the lives they lived, the routines they performed, and their relevance to us all, as people, today.




Few collections can have such an inviting start to the ‘About the author’ notes: ‘Keith Hutson has written for Coronation Street and many well-known comedians.’ Here’s a poet with proven experience in timing, the varied rhythm and patterns of everyday speech, the ability to make every word earn its place, and all underpinned with humour. – D A Prince, The London Grip 

Read on here.


In Hutson’s poetry, humour lifts the veil on our prejudices and hypocrisies. He brings glorious, subversive entertainment back to life in these wonderful poems. – William Bedford




Like the funniest of men, he had that look:
bad health crossed with indestructibility.
Fans would slap and cuddle him.

It takes a certain type of body to appear,
night after night, as if a gang's manhandled
it into a dinner suit; face folded
like a heart attack was homing in.

It was. But he'd soaked several up already;
recovered with a crack:
Treading boards is my best exercise!

After the last, wrapped in an overcoat
on Blackpool prom, he'd seemed robust enough,
just pale. And people like him, whose fathers

died in harness, whose mothers bore silent,
determined lives, they never bow out barely used.
One way or another they sweat buckets,
under stress, and make that state hilarious.

That's why we wet ourselves when they collapse
at the Palladium. And why it's only right
to raise another smile, to bring them back.


'Revival' was chosen for Poem of the Week at The Yorkshire Times.

The poem, whose ambiguous title suggests the restoration of a flagging career as it ironises the failure to revive life after cardiac arrest, is a simply rendered, deeply moving celebration of stoicism and a 'show must go on' commitment to audience in the face of crushing physical decline. Taking an unconventional view of the comic's existence, Hutson betrays his own love for comedy artistry as he acknowledges its cost. – Steve Whitaker, Literary Correspondent. Read more here.

More by Keith Hutson

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