Liverpool is bursting with culture and arts and Tony Chestnut, the people’s poet, is no exception to the rule. After a life involved in the local music scene, Tony has found himself writing poetry for money in pubs around Liverpool’s city centre.


In the late 1980s, Tony, aged 45 from Aigburth, was in several small local bands where he achieved moderate success. It was during this time he realised he had the ability to improvise song lyrics which he would later use to fulfil his poetic ambitions. He moved away from playing in bands during the early 90s and began organising raves.


He was the tour manager of the Boo Radley’s until 1996 and travelled the country with them. After this his life took a turn for the worse. Tony said: “I experienced the high life but then I lost the plot. I lost my home, my girlfriend and all my assets. I became homeless and the only thing I could do was either sell the Big Issue or kill myself.”


He hated selling the Big Issue but managed to create a side project out of the opportunity. He said: “I used to say ‘would you like a Big Issue or a poem instead?’ I unwittingly stumbled upon it which saved me to be honest.” Tony found that he could make up poetry in the street, about any subject and sell them.


Tony’s influences range from punk rock legend John Lydon to the Mersey Poets. He said: “The people’s poet is nothing without the people.” His poetry stems from personal stories to events, such as Hillsborough, that have affected the whole city. It is love which the public ask him to write about most. In response to this he said: “Love is something that can’t be bought but by all is sought. It’s the very fruit of our existence.”


He has recently been on Radio City Talk and is currently writing his second series of poetry booklets. Tony took some time out to write us a poem about Journalism.


A story sought,

an angle to report.

A right to write

and inform.

Born of the curious mind.


Truth be told,

Don’t be short sold.

Too many a press whore.

Headline, front page news.

The freedom to choose?

Or believe what you read.


Observer to Sun,

fact, fiction and spun.

Which party do they support?

Into the doctrine bought.


The people's poet of Liverpool

By Richard Ellis

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Tony Chestnut writes a  poem and entertains at the Albert Dock (Images from

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