Described by Allen Ginsberg back in the day as “one of the livest truest poets of Great Britain”, Tom Pickard has been flourishing of late. While the ears of the English literati remain bafflingly deaf to his singular music, Pickard has been cleaning up in America: his last three collections appeared via the Chicago press Flood Editions (a fourth is due in 2013), and his long poem “Lark and Merlin” won Poetry magazine’s inaugural Bess Hokin Prize in 2010. In a sense this transatlantic imbalance is nothing new. Since the early 1960s, Pickard has been one of the foremost British proponents of a modernist aesthetic gleaned from the American Pound-Objectivist-Black Mountain backbone of modern poetry in English. Many of these allegiances were part of the legacy he inherited from the modernist poet Basil Bunting, who Pickard first met as a teenager in Northumberland in 1963, and who would act as his mentor over the next twenty years. As the founder, with his first wife Connie, of the legendary Morden Tower readings in Newcastle, Pickard became a seminal presence in the British Poetry Revival of the sixties and seventies. Pickard’s verse has latterly become increasingly preoccupied with the landscape of the North Pennines and the history of its marginalised inhabitants. The most substantial product of this late, neo-Romantic turn was Pickard’s latest collection Ballad of Jamie Allan (2007), a poetic “life” of the eponymous eighteenth century outlaw, which featured some of Pickard’s most evocative nature poems (notably the ballad poem “Hawthorn”). A short memoir, More Pricks Than Prizes was published by the Boston publisher Pressed Wafer in 2010.
Read it here: http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/tom-pickard-interview/