Brian Patten was a member of a famous trio of poets in Liverpool, England following on the heels of the Beatnik Generation. They performed their poetry spoken aloud for live audiences. They precede the era of the poetry slam, but they doubtless influenced its inception. Patten is the naturalist among them, preferring to examine humanity as a product of nature rather than as a complex social construction or a spiritual force.
He devotes most of his poems to relationships -- first loves, lost loves, and heartbreaks. His narrators are generally unspecified but masculine. Through reflection he arrives at conclusions which place the speaker in the apologetic position. His narrators conclude that they are responsible for the faults in their relationships for various reasons. Whether Patten is expressing his own frustration with himself or merely commenting on the nature of confrontation and empathy, he chooses to make his characters take responsibility for their faults. His particular brand of romantic poetry revolves around ethical dilemma and temporality.
Time is the other predominant concern of Patten's work. He was not a young man by the time he began to be recognized for his poetic prowess, so his age seems to have been riding on the forefront of his mind at all times. He is concerned about the progress of time. At certain points, he hints at the cruel trick that aging plays on memory, stealing the memorialized possessions of its inhabitants. Although Patten never overtly complains about aging, he devotes many words to the concept of death. Some people claim that all poetry is ultimately about death, which may be extended to all art as well. In Patten's case, there is no escaping the reality of mortality.