THEY are an elite group, almost entirely made up of men, who meet every week to perfect their jealously-guarded magic tricks.
But now it has emerged that as well as fine-tuning their card tricks and perfecting new ways to “saw” glamorous assistants in half, the magicians of the Scottish Conjurers’ Association (SCA) have their very own Scottish Poet Laureate of Magic.
Magician Gerry McKendry (stage name Gerry the Jester) from Newton Mearns, Glasgow, composes personalised poems for the grand-masters of magic who fly in from around the world to give lectures and reveal the tricks of their trade to fellow magicians.
Mr McKendry, 73, a former retail manager, who got the courage to perform his poetry after attending a local writers’ group said he found making his debut reciting his work “quite terrifying.”
“I have written silly doggerel-type poetry for my family and friends for at least 55 years but the “magic introduction” poems for our visitors were my first foray into public reading and it was scary stuff.
“All the guest lecturers for at least ten years have had a poem of mine read out to introduce them.”
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Mr McKendry said he gets his inspiration by looking for clues about what is unique about each magician and also researches them on the internet and DVDs.
“They say there are no new tricks in magic. But quite often the way a magician names a trick will give a clue about what route they are going down and that gives me a start.
“Our lecturers are erudite and used to talking to audiences because it’s important in magic to do a trick and “tell a story” about what the trick means to hold the audience’s attention.”
California-based Gregory Wilson, last year’s close-up magic world champion, one the magicians who had a poem composed in his honour when he visited the SCA in Glasgow, emailed Mr McKendry asking for a signed copy of the work to put in his private museum.
Wilson, one of the leading figures on the US magic circuit, said: “Yes, I was very pleased, surprised, impressed and flattered with Gerry McKendry who wrote a moving and amusing composition about my work.”
Colin Waters, communications manager at the Scottish Poetry Library, praised Mr McKendry’s work saying it combined poetry and storytelling.
“There’s a close connection between poetry and magic. A poem and a spell both attempt to influence their audiences using rhythm and rhyme.
“Shakespeare knew that when he write the witches scenes in Macbeth.
“Gerry McKendry’s poem, however, is less about mesmerising its listeners than setting the scene for the real conjurers he writes about.
“The broad rhymes and galloping rhythms hark back to an earlier period of poetry.
“Indeed, with its storytelling elements and larger-than-life characters, it reads a little like a ballad, which is appropriate as the traditional Scottish and English ballads were often about witches, selkies, and all kind of devilry.”
Extract from Gerry McKendry poem for Gregory Wilson, April 2009.
-I’ve got “easy to master card miracles”
By fabulous Michael Ammar
And I sometimes can wax lyrical
For Canada’s Shawn Farquhar
Joshua Jay may be a Genii
‘Tho he is just a Child
and “Crazy” Also Colombini
His Act is “Really Wild”
But if you want to see the best
Greg Wilson is your man
A man who stands above the rest
And I’m his biggest fan
I know you’ll so a “Double Take”
When he does his “Off The Cuff”
Flawless, never a mistake
I just can’t get enough
He may be the “Ring Leader”
And put you “On the Spot”
But listen, gentle reader
This man has got the lot.
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