Monday, 7 February 2011

Britain says "Happy Birthday" to an old 'Liverpool' poet called Brian Patten

Brian is 65 today. I met him, albeit briefly, at his 'poetry reading' at the University of Sussex with my friend from Liverpool, Willis.

It must have been
in 1967, when I was 20 and Brian was 21.

What I didn't know about Brian was that he :

* was noted for his essays and greatly encouraged in his work by Harry Sutcliffe his form teacher.

* left school at 15 and began work for 'The Bootle Times', writing a column on popular music, where one of his first articles was on the Roger McGough and Adrian Henri, two 'pop-oriented' Liverpool Poets, who later two joined Brian in a best-selling poetry anthology called 'The Mersey Sound'.

* had collections of poems called 'Little Johnny's Confession' in 1967 and 'Notes to the Hurrying Man' in 1969 and received early encouragement from the poet, Philip Larkin.

* wrote collections of poems and comic verse for children, like 'Gargling With Jelly' and 'Thawing Frozen Frogs'.

* has given readings alongside such poets as Pablo Neruda, Allen Ginsberg, Stevie Smith, Laurie Lee, and Robert Lowell.

* in 2002, accepted the 'Cholmondeley Award' for services to poetry and with Roger McGough and the late Adrian Henri, was honoured with the 'Freedom of the City of Liverpool'.

Here he reads his 'A Boat in the Snow' to a group of children :

Brian talking about 'poets' writing in 'Liverpool 8' in the 1960's.

It was gratifying to discover that my University of Sussex, 1960's friend, Willis Pitts, had brought out a book called 'The Fifth Beatle'. :

Willis got a job as an 'extra' in Richard Attnenborough's film. 'Oh,What a Lovely War', when it was filmed in Brighton and on the Sussex Downs in 1968. Here he is, 'frozen in aspic', standing second to the left of the churchman making his speech to the troops :

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