Tony Walsh is an ordinary bloke with an extraordinary talent and a remarkable story.
Overcoming childhood poverty and illness, then working everyday jobs in the communities of his beloved home city of Manchester, he has risen in recent years to become one of the UK’s most widely recognised and most in-demand professional poets. A regular on tv and radio since 2011, Tony performs and teaches internationally and his work has been commissioned by a growing list of major institutions, attracting a legion of fans and celebrity admirers. His work came to worldwide attention in May 2017 when broadcast globally from the vigil for victims of the arena bomb outrage in his beloved Manchester. His performance trended worldwide on social media and his poem, This Is The Place, entered the folklore and fabric of the city he’s still proud to call home – painted onto walls, recited in schools, re-mixed by DJs, even tattooed onto skin.
This iconic performance, together with Tony’s spontaneous closing comment of “choose love, Manchester” was widely credited with helping to define the city’s notably defiant, compassionate and creative response to these terrible events. The poem has since been used and licensed to raise approaching £200,000 for the survivors of the bombing, the families of those who were killed and other grass-roots community causes. Find out more here.
With subsequent acclaimed performances alongside rock and pop superstars at the One Love fundraising concert and the re-opening of Manchester Arena, Tony – also known as Longfella – found himself catapulted onto rock festival mainstages and clocking up 3 million views on Facebook for his next poem, commissioned by the BBC North West Tonight regional news programme. The One Love concert was broadcast and streamed to a global audience of many millions and reached over 15 million people on YouTube afterwards.