On the 23rd of May 2017 Mancunian poet Tony Walsh read his poem, This is the Place in tribute to the Manchester Arena attack victims. A crowd of thousands gathered in central Manchester in remembrance of those who were killed and injured in a terror attack.
The poem instantly became a symbol of the proud and resilient city. Its lines now adorn walls and buildings, offering snippets of hope and strength to its inhabitants. The poem, it seemed, now belonged to the city.
Its creator, Tony Walsh, has since decided to officially ‘gift’ the poem to Manchester, hoping its use will help raise money for thousands of community projects for the city. The popularity of the poem had grown to the point that big corporations were using lines from it without permission, and without any recompense for Manchester and its people.
In January 2018, the poet said that by gifting the poem to the city of Manchester, it would ensure that any royalties would go to the Forever Manchester charity, which currently funds thousands of projects across the community.
Thanks to the licensing change, This is the Place can be used free of charge in school libraries and colleges, while a donation to charity is required from businesses. Any profits made through merchandise will also go to Forever Manchester.
The video below shows Walsh reading his poem aloud to the gathered community the day after the Manchester bombing that killed 22 and injured over 100 innocent people.
Speaking after donating the poem, Walsh said:
“This is me trying to give something back. There’s not a day gone by since the poem trended fourth in the world that I’ve not been approached by someone wanting to do something with it, or seen tweets about things that people have done with it unauthorised. It’s hugely time consuming. It’s about protecting the poem, it’s about using its commercial potential to benefit the people of Greater Manchester, putting it back to where it came from.”
Speaking of the community charity, he remarked: “Forever Manchester do fantastic work: they fund football teams and old pensioners’ clubs, community centres and cancer support groups, drama groups and dancing groups and sports teams. It’s just the stuff of community life really – it’s not massive headline stuff but it’s really important to the local communities.”
Their website explains the influences behind their anthologies:
“The Urban Word Collective was born out of a dream of a shared space whereby Urban Poets could mutually promote, celebrate and inspire one another for the benefit of their communities and ultimately country. Such poets are the Bob Dylans of today and have so much to say, to add to navigating a tumultuous world. The world of poetry has never been exclusive to one tradition, rather a tree with roots that propagates, seeding for the present and future.”