Tom Pickard, a Newcastle-born writer who left school at 14 and fell swiftly under the spell of American Beat poetry and poets, was not only present at the birth of the British Poetry Revival in 1965 but also is credited with leading the charge.
The author of 10 books of poetry and prose, Pickard will present a poetry@mit reading on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. in Room 6-120.
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 The Guardian (UK). In the preface to "F***wind," former Beatle Paul McCartney wrote, "This collection of poems and songs soars over the fells, screeching truth, sex, humor, anger and love."
During the 1960s, Pickard ran bookstores and organized readings in England by well-known American beat poets including Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso. The British Revival is said to have grown out of these efforts, bringing wit, modernism, romance, excess and sexual expressiveness to poetry.
Pickard, 58, lives on the edge of Fiends Fell on the English-Scottish border. He has directed and produced a number of documentary films for British television and is currently writing a libretto for composer John Harle. "The Ballad Of Jamie Allan" is based on the 18th-century gypsy whose reputation as a great musician was matched by his reputation as an outlaw.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 17, 2004 (download PDF).