Brian Patten was born in Liverpool in 1946 and is famous for his lyrical poems that are aimed at children and adults. Growing up in a working class area of the city, like many of his compatriots he left school at the early age of fifteen, heading to work as a reporter in Bootle at the beginning of the 1960s. A lover of culture he became the paper’s music correspondent and his first assignment was to interview Roger McGough, one of the most influential poets from the region.
Along with McGough and Adrien Henri, Brian Patten became known as one of the Liverpool poets who were trying to make their work accessible and available to a wider audience. Patten had begun writing poetry when he was still at school in Sefton Park and later went on to produce Underdog, a magazine that was to give a platform to many of Liverpool’s poets.
His first major collection was published in 1967 when he was just 21 and was titled Little Johnny’s Confessions. A little later, the Liverpool poets banded together to produce the Mersey Sound which fulfilled their promise to bring poetry to a wider audience and went on to sell over 500,000 copies. Since then he has written over 50 books of poetry for both children and adults
He has produced numerous collections over the years for adults including Vanishing Trick and Storm Damage. In 1996, he wrote Armada which explored his relationship and love for his mother who had recently died, revisiting his youth and offering intense and personal insights into the human condition.
Many of his adult works also explore the complexities of love and in Notes to a Hurrying Man he takes a more sombre view of how it can bruise and damage, from infatuation to love, and beyond, to all those regrets of love lost or missed.
He is most well-known for his humorous poetry for children that includes Juggling with Gerbils and The Big Snuggle Up. In Gargling with Jelly, Brian Patten explores all those nasty little habits that children enjoy, creating a collection that is popular with children and adults alike. He revels in silly jokes and whimsical rhymes which has led some to compare him to Edward Lear and the late Spike Milligan.
Over the years, Patten has received numerous prizes including the Cholmondeley Award in 2002 for his children’s book The Blue and Green Ark that celebrates life on earth, from A to Z. He has been given the freedom of the city in Liverpool and is a Fellow at the Universities there.
He has also edited a number of poetry anthologies, the most notable being The Puffin Book of Utterly Brilliant Poetry in 1998. Nowadays, Patten spends his time between his home in Dover and London, but his heart still belongs to Liverpool.