Other Free Encyclopedias » Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction » Encyclopedia of Literature: Lights of Bohemia to Love in Livery

Liverpool Poets

The Liverpool Scene, The Mersey Sound, The Incredible New Liverpool Scene, New Volume

poetry mcgough henri anthology

the name given to a group of three poets, Adrian Henri, Roger McGough, and Brian Patten, who came together in the early 1960s in the euphoria generated in part by the success of the Beatles. The Liverpool Scene (1967) gave the term currency; achieving unusually high sales for a poetry anthology, it was eclipsed by the astonishing success of the 1967 Penguin anthology The Mersey Sound and of collections by, in particular, Pattern. But the major impact was in performance. All three were involved in performance poetry in 1961, and later in ‘happenings’ (about 1963), performances with musicians, poetry recordings (e.g. The Incredible New Liverpool Scene, Henri/McGough, 1967), theatre, and broadcasting. Their work was public and accessible, a statement against academic and ‘establishment’ poetry, subversive, and often surreal. It drew its imagery from the urban landscape, usually precisely located in Liverpool. The three styles were distinct: Pattern was one of the outstanding lyric poets of the 1960s; McGough's often-imitated punning word-play used domestic urban images; Henri's impressionist poetry bizarrely juxtaposed contemporary images, making frequent use of techniques such as William Burroughs's ‘cut-ups’. Different styles reflected sharply differing literary backgrounds. Patten's sensuous musical lyricism stands in a clearly recognizable tradition, McGough's pungency and wit likewise in the line of English comic verse; Henri, by contrast, intercut the Liverpool landscape with that of the European avant-garde, American Beat culture, rock music, and political anarchy.

By 1970 Patten had left Liverpool and the group's identity changed, though it remained influential for the rest of the decade. A final anthology, New Volume (1983), covered the period since the publication of The Mersey Sound. The Liverpool Scene generated a poetry climate in which several other poets became well known, including Matt Simpson, Henry Graham (co-editor of Ambit), and Willy Russell (later a successful playwright).

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or