The Liverpool Poets: An Introduction

Liverpool poets:

Liverpool poets are a group of poets native to the city of Liverpool, England who, in the early 196os, began to give public recitals of their work, often to the accompaniment of music. Their emergence coincided with that of the pop group the Beatles, and with the advent of the Anglo-American jazz poetry movement.

The principal poets were (and are) Roger McGough, Brian Patten, and Adrian Henri. The poets generally came from a working-class background and went to art college rather than university. There was a strong allegiance with pop music, and the values and effectiveness of that in reaching out to a wide audience informed the poetry. Readings took place in a pub or club environment.

Robustly Liverpudlian, witty, slangy, and sometimes bawdy, their work reached a sizeable pop audience. They were featured in a 1967 book The Liverpool Scene edited by Edward Lucie-Smith, with a blurb by Ginsberg and published by Donald Carroll.

Their work is characterized by its directness of expression, simplicity of language, suitability for live performance, and concern for contemporary subjects and references. There is often humor, but the full range of human experience and emotion is addressed.

The anthology The Mersey Sound was published by Penguin in 1967, containing the poems of Adrian Henri, Roger McGough, and Brian Patten.

At first, they were looked at somewhat askance by serious critics, but by the 1970s they had become more or less famous through various anthologies and it was realized what fine poets they are. Their merits were even appreciated by school examination boards. No doubt as a sop to populism.