Tom Kelly was born in Jarrow and now lives happily further up the Tyne at Blaydon. He has had a varied career from his first job in a shipyard time-office; to writing the BBCTV Arena musical documentary Kelly with Alan Price. After a late degree he worked for twenty-five years as a drama lecturer at South Tyneside College.
He now writes full-time and works on creative projects. He has written many plays and musicals many of which have been produced by the Customs House, South Shields.
He has seven collections of poetry, his most recent being I Know Their Footsteps published by Red Squirrel Press.
“As a fellow-Tynesider, I
was pleased to read this in my ‘native’ idiom. Tom brings it off
very well, and I congratulate him on a truly poetic dialect voice
perfectly expressed in print. Through his command of the idiom I
have loved since childhood, I have been swept back in memory to the
atmosphere of all my working-class childhood and youth. The voice is
absolutely convincing, and very appealingly managed in print –
something very difficult to do with our gruff yet musical gift of
self-expression – half proud, half uneasy about the effect it can
make – often astonishingly memorable, as for example The Boot and
its rough-tongued companion Unmarked. I can smell the coal dust and
the drying fishing nets on the Tyne and in all its sloping riverbank
roofs. Another poem (among many) I found really memorable is The
Business and the translation (not too much ‘after’ T’Ao Ch’ien)
whose poems I translated long ago.