ROGER McGough has many strings to his bow: performance poet, broadcaster, children’s author and playwright.

He has been described as the patron saint of poetry and I have to admit to a slight bias towards his rhythmic musings, as I happen to believe Roger's The Way Things Are (1999) is one of the most cleverly constructed pieces of verse in the contemporary canon.

So far, he's penned more than 100 books of poetry for adults and children.

Roger appears on Friday at the Words by the Water literature festival running at Keswick's Theatre by the Lake, reading from his latest collection Joined Up Writing, an exuberant new collection of poems that explore the human experience in all its shades of light and dark but always with Roger's signature wit, irreverence and vivacity.

Hilarious and surreal, he is a poet of many voices.

Born in 1937, Roger studied at the University of Hull before returning to his home city of Liverpool where, in the early 1960s, he became a part of the city's vibrant Mersey Beat scene. Roger, alongside Mike McCartney and John Gorman, formed the comic group The Scaffold, and in 1968 gave us the chart topping, Lily the Pink. His poetry first reached a mass audience in the Penguin Modern Poets collection The Mersey Sound, which also included Adrian Henri and Brian Patten and went on to sell more than million copies.

These days, Roger also has a music and poetry band Little Machine which perform a sizzling selection of vintage, classic and surprising poems set to music and have released a new album The Likes of Us.

Words by the Water runs from Friday until March 17 with a host of high profile names on the bill.

On Saturday, broadcaster, author, parliamentarian and festival president, Melvyn Bragg talks about his new work, Love Without End: A Story of Heloise and Abelard.

The following Saturday, March 16 sees Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith in the spotlight drawing on her life-long passion for food. Other festival highlights include an all new family day on Sunday, March 17, with horrible histories illustrator Martin Brown. For tickets and full festival details telephone 017687-74411.