Issue 1: Tom Leonard

A life

There were some who seemed to spend their lives “being a writer”.

And he had spent his life not being a writer.

That way lay safety. An invisibility. A freedom.

Those he met saw him as “that writer” and would never understand that this

was not how he had chosen to see himself.

He accepted their seeing him as “that writer” almost with a kind of irony.

But then he began to accept that he was a writer.

It was a matter of language and consciousness. The link between the two.

He had to choose to accept the responsibility of the outer that he had preserved

from himself, that he had left to the perception of others.

For as he grew older he stood in a separate relationship to himself.

He was able to body himself conceptually as a totality.

And though he had never been a storyteller, he saw that he had been telling a

story all his life.

It became important to him that somebody heard the story, now that he realised

he had been telling it.

Yet all that remained to be told was that he had been telling it.

And all that remained was the need for the last understanding, the sign that

someone had heard the story, and the teller was no longer necessary.

Tom Leonard was born in 1944 in Glasgow. His selected poetry and prose 1965-2008 will be published later this year by Etruscan Books, Devon. The poem "A Life" will be one of three concluding poems under the title "Three Types of Envoi". A list of Tom Leonard's publications and some online work can be seen at

Copyright © 2008 by Tom Leonard, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.