Glasgow & West Scotland

Scottish poet Tom Leonard dies age 74

Tom Leonard courtesy of Scottish Poetry Library Image copyright Dominic Charlton
Image caption Tom Leonard was hailed for his "humour" and "untameable intelligence"

Poet and "giant" of Scottish literature Tom Leonard has died at the age of 74.

Famed for writing in the Glaswegian dialect, Mr Leonard's best-known poetry includes his 1967 collection Six Glasgow Poems and The Six O'Clock News.

Born in 1944, Mr Leonard attended the University of Glasgow aged 23 but left after two years, returning to complete his course in the 1970s.

He was later appointed joint professor in creative writing at his alma mater with Alasdair Gray and James Kelman.

In 2009 he retired from the role.

Mr Leonard forged his career writing plays, sound poetry, political polemic and a biography of the 19th century Scottish poet James 'BV' Thomson.

Often his writing examined class, education, language and culture.

His book Intimate Voices won the Scottish Book of the Year award in 1984.

Literary 'champion'

The Scottish Poetry Library has pledged to hold a tribute event to Mr Leonard in the new year.

Director Asif Khan said: "With the death of Tom Leonard, Scottish literature bids farewell to one of its genuine giants.

"He was a pioneer committed to representing the language and concerns of his west of Scotland working-class community at a time when such representations were scant to non-existent.

"The attitudes he exposed in his ground-breaking poem 'Six O'Clock News' remain relevant decades after its publication; his analysis of the way in which accent, grammar, spelling and pronunciation are used to sustain power structures is as penetrating today as it was the day it was written.

"He was also a champion of those who'd gone before him, his anthology Radical Renfrew uncovering a history of working class voices lost to history.

"His humour, his experimentalism, his commitment to his craft and untameable intelligence will be much missed by readers and the many writers he continues to influence."

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