Tom Leonard was born in Glasgow on 22 August 1944. His father was a train driver from Dublin who came to Scotland in 1916 in search of work. His mother -of Irish descent- was from Saltcoats and had worked in the Nobel dynamite factory at Ardeer before getting married.
After leaving school Tom worked as a bus driver and university bookshop assistant. He also went to night school and then to Glasgow University when he was 23. There he edited the student magazine. He left after two years but went back in the 1970s to finish his degree.
Since then he has made his living as a writer. He ha had Scottish Arts Council Bursaries and was Writer in Residence at Renfrewshire libraries. Whilst there he completed an anthology of local poets called RADICAL RENFREW.
In 2001 together with Alisdair Gray and James Kelman he was appointed Joint Professor in Creative Writing back at Glasgow University. He retired in 2009.
Tom has written plays, poetry and political polemic and also a biography PLACES OF THE MIND about James "B.V. Thomson."
Where poetry is concerned Tom is best known for writing in the "phonetically transcribed urban Glasgow dialect." In doing this he has sought to challenge "deeply held prejudices against the urban vernacular" (Broom 2006).
He has previously said he'd "like a Scottish independent socialist republic" and spoke out against both the Gulf and Iraq wars.
would thi prisoner
in thi bar
I hearby sentence you
tay six munth hard labour
doon nthi poetry section
uv yir local library
coontn thi fuckin metaphors
(From Leonard's poem "Ghostie Men").