Welcome to my website! - updated 1st October 2018.
I'm a poet, critic, bibliophile and fanatic in the cause of good English.
Two important dates are coming up. The first is National Poetry Day on 4th October, when I'm reading at the Oxford Natural History Museum. The other is 11th November, when we commemorate the end of the First World War. There will be a great many events to mark this season and I'll be posting regularly about them on Facebook. On Saturday 13th October I'll be at the Barbican for the 2018 Battle of Ideas, talking about Wilfred Owen and war poetry at 2 p.m. with James Heartfield, Sean Lang and Richard Swan. I've written a short play, DOPPELGANGER (it means Double), about Wilfred and the German poet Gerrit Engelke, who died at around the same time, and you can read it here and perform it if you wish.
On the 26th June John Lucas, the distinguished poet, critic and publisher of Shoestring Press, celebrated his eightieth birthday. I had been working away in secret and was able to present him with an anthology by 72 poets, called Strike up the Band. You can read the the first review here.
My fourth collection, Letter to my Rival, was published by Shoestring in 2015. New and Selected Poems from the same press will appear in 2019.
Effie was issued as a Random House audiobook at the end of March 2015 and you can order it here. The e-book version for PC and the e-book version for Kindle (both pdf.s) are now available.
I was the first editor of The Interpreter's House, a little magazine founded, in 1996, in Bedfordshire where I then lived. It's still going but now it's online!
My first interest, on which I wrote my doctoral thesis, was the novels of Thomas Hardy. Since then I've published various studies of the Victorians and post- Victorians - Preface to Hardy (Longman), Women in the English Novel, 1800-1900, Margaret Oliphant: A Critical Biography, and Six Women Novelists, all published by Macmillan. More recently I wrote a book on a fascinating subject - Effie: A Victorian Scandal, From Ruskin's Wife to Millais' Muse (Book Guild).
Then I got into modern poetry. As an editor I saw some of the best contemporary poems and short stories before they were published, and eventually brought out some of my own. I've appeared in several magazines and have three collections in print - The Sun's Yellow Eye (National Poetry Foundation), The Latin Master's Story (Rockingham), and The First Wife's Tale (Shoestring Press), which was long-listed for Welsh Book of the Year.
The poets of the First World War are another great interest. So is children's literature, and I've written a story for girls aged 10-14, Clare and Effie
(Honno), which is based on the lives of Gwen and Augustus John.
When I can't think of a poem, I occasionally translate one. (Well, I had to learn Latin at school). I was particularly inspired by the work of Federico Garcia Lorca, who was murdered in the Spanish Civil War, and Bloodaxe published my English versions of his Selected Poems in 1992. See my Lorca page.
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