A Manchester poet on Tuesday reminded his city and the world after a terrorist attack on a pop concert killed 22 and injured 59 that the people of his city won’t ever back down from adversity.
At a vigil less than 24 hours after a suicide bomber’s deadly explosion erupted outside Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande concert, mourners paid their respects. Poet Tony Walsh ― affectionately referred to as Longfella ― read his poem “This Is The Place.” Though written in 2013, the poem’s descriptions of the resilient nature of Mancunians, as city residents are known, holds strong.
Walsh’s poem discusses the highs and lows of the city he so loves.
“And this is the place with appliance of science, we’re on it, atomic, we struck with defiance,” Walsh bellowed to the crowd. “And in the face of a challenge, we always stand tall, Mancunians, in union, delivered it all.
“Such as housing and libraries and health, education. And unions and co-opts and the first railway stations,” Walsh continued. “So we’re sorry, bear with us, we invented commuters. But we hope you forgive us, we invented computers.”
The Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Officials identified the bomber as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, who was killed in the blast.
The five-minute reading spoke of the people of Manchester’s ability to “thrive and survive and to work and to build,” and how the spirit of Manchester can never dissolve, even in its worst times:
“Because this is a place that has been through some hard times: oppressions, recessions, depressions, and dark times.
But we keep fighting back with greater Manchester spirit. Northern grit, northern wit, and greater Manchester’s lyrics.
And these hard times again, in these streets of our city, but we won’t take defeat and we don’t want your pity.
Because this is a place where we stand strong together, with a smile on our face, greater Manchester forever.”
Thousands gathered for the vigil at Albert Square, according to The Guardian.
Walsh ended his poem with a reminder of what makes his city great.
“Because this is the place in our hearts, in our homes.
Because this is the place that’s a part of our bones.
Because greater Manchester gives us such strength from the fact that this is the place, we should give something back.
Always remember, never forget, forever Manchester.”
“Choose love, Manchester,” Walsh finished. “Thank you.”