Tom Leonard Passes Away/T.S.Eliot Wrote to Laurie Lee – Poetry News Roundup December 24th

Today’s poetry news round up brings the sad news of the death of the Scottish poet Tom Leonard. We also take a look at correspondence from T.S. Eliot which was written to Laurie Lee.

Tom Leonard, Scottish Poet Passes Away Aged 74

The poet who is often referred to as the “giant” of Scottish Literature has passed away at the age of 74.

Tom Leonard is well known for writing in the Glaswegian dialect, and he is perhaps most remembered for Six Glasgow Poems, his 1967 collection, and The Six O’Clock News.

Leonard was born in 1944. Aged 23, he attended the University of Glasgow where he completed 2 years. It wasn’t until the 1970s that he returned to the University and finished his course. He went on to be appointed to the position of joint professor in creative writing with two other professors. He held the position until his retirement in 2009.

During his career Leonard wrote several plays, sound poetry, a biography on James “BV” Thomson, the 19th century Scottish poet and a political polemic. In 1984 he won the Scottish Book of the Year award with his book Intimate Voices.

The Director of the Scottish Poetry Library, Asif Khan, said

The group have pledged to commemorate the life of Tom Leonard in the new year.

Laurie Lee Not “Remarkable Enough” Claimed T.S. Eliot

In an upcoming volume of correspondence, it is revealed that the poet T.S. Eliot did not think much of poems written by a young Laurie Lee, the author who went on to write “Cider with Rosie” – a classic best seller.

A friend of Lee’s sent poems to Eliot having sensed his potential. A long covering letter was also enclosed which stated that Lee was lacking in ambition and was too lazy to send the poems to a publisher. The friend hoped that the poems would find the attention of Eliot, who would help the then 23-year-old Lee.

Sadly, the letter did not have the desired effect. In response, Eliot wrote

He did state however that it was just his opinion and maybe opinions should be sought elsewhere, he even recommended a number of publishers to try. Eliot’s letter is to be published in what will be the eighth of twenty volumes that have been planned under the title “The Letter of T.S. Eliot”. It will be available to purchase from 17th January.

Lee’s Cider with Rosie, a poetic portrait of the changing world and rural life, was published during 1959. It established him as one of the best loved writers in England. The letters contained within Volume 8 were written between 1936 to 1938.



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