Born in a working-class neighbourhood near the docks, Patten left school at fifteen, and was hired by a private newspaper called The Bootle Times to write a column on popular music. One of his first articles was on Roger McGough and Adrian Henri, who later joined Brian in forming the performance group called the Liverpool Poets. The group performed poetry for audiences and also released an anthology called "The Mersey Sound", which sold thousands of copies.
Patten received early encouragement from Philip Larkin, and Charles Causley once commented: "[Patten] reveals a sensibility profoundly aware of the ever-present possibility of the magical and the miraculous, as well as of the granite-hard realities. These are undiluted poems, beautifully calculated, informed - even in their darkest moments - with courage and hope."
Patten's style is generally lyrical and his subjects are primarily love and relationships. His 1981 collection Love Poems draws together his best work in this area from the previous sixteen years. Tribune has described Patten as "the master poet of his genre, taking on the intricacies of love and beauty with a totally new approach, new for him and for contemporary poetry."
The collections Storm Damage (1988) and Armada (1996) are however more various, the latter featuring a sequence of poems concerning the death of his mother and memories of his childhood. Armada is perhaps Patten's most mature and formal book, dispensing with much of the playfulness of former work. And yet he can still be extraordinarily funny in work that relates back to childhood and is echoed in his famous collections of comic verse for children, notably Gargling With Jelly and Thawing Frozen Frogs.
Patten is now regarded as one of Britain's leading contemporary poets, writing extensively for children as well as adults. He has been described as a highly engaging performer, and gives readings frequently. Over the years he has read alongside such poets as Pablo Neruda, Allen Ginsberg, Stevie Smith, Laurie Lee, and Robert Lowell. Also acknowledged as one of Europe's foremost poets, his books have in recent years been translated into Italian, Spanish, German and Polish. His children's novel Mr Moon's Last Case won a special award from the Mystery Writers of America Guild.
Brian Patten also went to Sefton Park School in the Smithdown Road area of Liverpool as a boy where he was noted for his essays and greatly encouraged in his work by Harry Sutcliffe his form teacher.
Books for children:
Patten Proves the Beat Does Go on; the Youngest of Liverpool's Beat Poets Has Turned 60. Catherine Jones Chats to Brian Patten about Mellowing, Memoirs and That Mersey Sound
Apr 22, 2006; THE writing is on the wall for poet Brian Patten. The father of the Mersey Sound, venerable Freeman of the City and wizard of...
Poetry Shouldn't Put on Airs and Graces; Brian Patten Finds Re-Visiting His Childhood Memories a Difficult Task, He Tells Laura Davis
Mar 31, 2010; Byline: Laura Davis THERE are phantoms hiding in the shadows of Brian Patten's memory that he's wary of awakening. Spectres with...