Review of ‘Outside the Narrative’ by Tom Leonard: Etruscan Books/Word Power Books
I vividly recall the first time I read a Tom Leonard poem. It was Yon Night and it was yon man (my dad) who showed it to me. The poem tells of a bitter-sweet confluence of emotions: joy at seeing Celtic cuff Leeds at Hampden and the misery of unrequited love: “ana wuz thaht happy/ana wuz thaht fed up/ hoffa mi wuz greetnaboot Celtic/anhoffa mi wuz greetnabout hur”. It’s funny, poignant and has the pitch perfection that is Leonard’s hallmark, but what drew me to it was the langwij in which it was written. Reading it was like watching the first episode of Taggart. Glasgow flashed past and suddenly I saw: excitement (glamorous cop shows, modern poetry) wasn’t something that happened elsewhere. Excitement could be mine.
The days when printers refused to print Leonard’s poems and they were banned in schools are long gone, but he continues to rail against the dominant narrative and to poke fun
Outside the Narrative, a selection of poems from 1965 to 2009, is dedicated to all those excluded from the excitement. The title poem, a triptych that ends with a white rectangle obscuring the words, … Read More »