Liverpool has been home to many poets and writers. This was particularly true through the 1960s, when a group of poets formed the “Liverpool Poets”. They would organize meetings and were influenced by the 1950s “beat poetry” which originated from the States.
These poets used lyrics that were often used in music that was emanating from the city during this era. It was seen as modern poetry, as “beat poetry” was influenced by the hippie and counter culture movements.
The “Liverpool Poets” created a divide in opinions because some traditionalists did not enjoy this new form of rhyme. The poets were more concerned with the messages that the poems gave as opposed to the words themselves. These poets included Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten who formed a foundation of poetry rock group.
This group published the Mersey Sound in 1967 which sold over 500,000 copies. This is one of the highest selling poetry anthologies of all time and it has been continuously published since then. Adrian Henri was the theoretician who represented popular culture through verse. This was at a time when the lower classes of the city were suffering from de-industrialization and their issues were represented through the work of Henri.
As well as being a poet, Henri was also an artist and he was influenced by the French Symbolist School of Poetry and Surrealist Art. Despite his popularity around the country, he chose to live his life in Liverpool as he felt at home with the social structure of the city. Roger McGough combined being a children’s author with being a poet. As well as writing, he also appeared on television, and even presented the BBC 4 Radio program “Poetry Please”. After appearing as one of the “Liverpool Poets”, his career flourished and today he is the President of the Poetry Society.
During the 1960s, McGough produced some of his best works and “Let Me Die a Youngman’s Death” was included by the BBC as one of the country’s top one hundred favorite poems. Other works such as this has made him one of the nation’s favorite poets.
Brian Patten joined the Liverpool Poets after writing about McGough and Henri in the “Bootle Times” newspaper, for whom he worked for as a journalist. This gave him the freedom to work on his poetry and he produced many poems that were influenced by the death of his mother when he was young.
His work was primarily lyrical and differed from the other poets as his subjects were about love and relationships. As well as writing for adults as time has progressed he has written more books for children and many of his books are some of the bestselling poetry books in the country.
There were many connections between the “Liverpool Poets”. The production of the Mersey Sound attracted poets from other areas of the country as there was both a social and political link. The poets all tended to come from a College education and not a university one and they all reflected the feelings of the youth in the 1960s.