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Tom Pickard

  • About
  • Reviews
  • Awards
  • Pickard grew up in the working-class suburbs of Cowgate, Newcastle upon Tyne, and Blakelaw, and left school at the age of fourteen. Three years later he met Basil Bunting and was instrumental in the older poet's return to writing in the early 1960s, leading to the latter's most acclaimed poem, the long, autobiographical Briggflatts, published in 1966. The association also produced Bunting's scathing "What the Chairman told Tom" ("I want to wash when I meet a poet.... my twelve-year-old can do it - AND rhyme!"). In 1963, with his first wife Connie, Pickard founded and ran the Morden Tower Book Room, where he organised a series of readings by British and American modernist tradition poets, including Bunting. He also set up the Ultima Thule Bookshop - specialising in poetry, music and alternative counter-culture publications - between 1969 and 1973. During this period he also travelled in the United States to give performances and renew friendships with some of the American Morden Tower readers, including Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley and Ed Dorn. Allen Ginsberg said of him: "I am an old admirer of Tom Pickard's poetry and believe as does Basil Bunting that he is one of the most live and true poetic voices in Great Britain."

    As a poet, Pickard is known for his poetic range, from erotic to political, from lyrically delicate to poignantly sad to bluntly expletive-driven. He was described as a "voice of finesse and powerful emotion" by Jeff Nuttall. In the preface to "Fuckwind," former Beatle Paul McCartney wrote, "This collection of poems and songs soars over the fells, screeching truth, sex, humor, anger and love."

    As well as poetry Pickard has complied books of oral history and has directed and produced a number of documentary films.


    'The poet knows not to look for meaning but to live for experience, which is compelling.'
    Stand Magazine


    'A voice of finesse and powerful emotion...'
    Guardian
    '...one of the most live and true poetic voices in Great Britain...'
    Allen Ginsberg
    'Through the heart and mind and a concoction of senses, the poet attempts to distil everything down to word... without more ado I would like to introduce you to a collection of poems by Mr Tom Pickard, otherwise known as Tam O’ Red Shirt.'
    Annie Lennox
    'With sharp vision [Pickard] dissects his gut reaction and reminds us to appreciate the cool clear beauty of our own situation.'
    Paul McCartney
    'A fierce tenderness' is a very apt description of Pickard’s work. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered poems that are so hardhitting at one level and so tender and compassionate at another.'
    Stephen Regan
    'His ear for rhythm is exceedingly delicate, his syntax strong and terse, and his vocabulary free of fancy work. He seems able to select at will the detail which creates a whole scene or action.'
    Basil Bunting
     'the linguistic ecstasy [...] slipped into the loneliness of the landscape the poet finds himself answering to instead of a lover [...] A lyric poet in profound correspondence with his home in the Pennines and with the erotic muse.'
    Ange Mlinko, Poetry
     '€˜With sharp vision Tom Pickard dissects his gut reaction and reminds us to appreciate the cool clear beauty of our own situation.'
    Paul McCartney
    'In these days of technological wizardry it might be a safe guess to say poets have become rather thin on the ground. I mean to say that there seems to be a surplus of estate agents, bankers, media people, technocrats, lawyers, accountants etc... but the POET... the noble BARD appears to have almost slipped off the map. This is one reason why I'm terribly glad that Tom Pickard is alive and kicking, because in fact he is the living embodiment of '€œpoetdom'€. [...] To try to describe Tom's poems would be pointless. They speak for themselves, in the most powerful and uniquely personal way.'
    Annie Lennox
     'Pickard uses local words and slang authentically. [...] But throughout his work he reaches into a need for a certain strenuous innocence, a resistance to intellectualising, another way of speaking directly to an audience.'
    Eric Mottram
      '€˜I am an old admirer of Tom Pickard's poetry and believe as does Basil Bunting that he is one of the most live and true poetic voices in Great Britain.'
    Allen Ginsberg
    Awards won by Tom Pickard Winner, 2017 Writer of the Year, Cumbria Life Culture Awards (Winter Migrants)
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