The poets included in this chapter all come from working-class backgrounds in which poetry seemed a most unlikely career choice or leisure pursuit, but whereas Paterson’s first memorable experiences of poetry as an adult were encounters with the poetry of Tony Harrison, and in particular his sonnets about his working-class family background, Harrison himself saw no such role models around him, and had to work out for himself that the Cockney Keats and the Northern Wordsworth could be used as models in quite different ways than had been suggested to him hitherto. For Leonard and Harrison, the sense of the necessity of battling against a class-bound literary establishment has been a dominating and driving force. Paterson’s poetry, with few exceptions, takes on a much less confrontational stance, something which may be partly due to his sense of coming after poets like Harrison, Leonard and Douglas Dunn, and may also be related to the very different political climate of his formative years.
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