zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Underdog - Number Five. 1964. Edited by Brian Patten. A5 booklet, 22 printed pages, cardboard cover.  

Underdog - 8. 1966. Edited by Brian Patten. A5 booklet, 22 printed pages, cardboard cover. 

In 1965 poet Allen Ginsberg, figurehead of the American Beat scene, declared Liverpool to be “at the present moment, the centre of consciousness of the human universe”. 

Ginsberg was right. 60s Liverpool wasn’t all about The Beatles, or Mersey Beat bands, but also poets. Roger McGough, Brian Patten and Adrian Henri - known collectively as The Liverpool Poets - first came to the attention of a wider public in 1967 with the publication of Penguin Modern Poets 10: The Mersey Sound - which to date has sold over 500,000 copies, a rare feat for a poetry anthology. 

Long before that they were producing live events, readings and art happenings in the pubs and clubs of the city. In 1962 Brian Patten, then just only 16, started to capture the essence of these events in his zine Underdog
Underdog is a record of its time - a poetry rooted in place, and pop - and of a scene. They contain early versions of poems that later McGough, Patten and Henri would become famous for; work by British beat troubadours Pete Brown and Spike Hawkings; the incomparable Adrian Mitchell (who stole the show at the infamous 1965 poetry incarnation at the Albert Hall);  and reaching out to the USA -  later issues also include Robert Creeley and granddaddy beat Allen Ginsberg.  

The lesson is you never know what will become of anyone who makes a zine, or whose work it captures. Also, if you ask for submissions in the right way, you never know who might say yes.

Review by Nathan Penlington

(This post was originally part of an ongoing series celebrating work from my zine collection. You can find the rest of the posts here)

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