writer | poet | photographer
I live in an old butcher’s shop in Norwich with my wife the poet Helen Ivory, and sciatica. I’m a trustee of Norwich Arts Centre.
My photography has been widely published and exhibited, including at the National Portrait Gallery. This Man’s Army (Dewi Lewis Publishing) was published in 1998.
My poetry ranges from biting satire – “Figura was a revelation – funny, sharp and on top form.” Robert McCrum, The Observer – to the dark material of Whistle – “His subject matter is so challenging it makes the audience gasp. In spite of this, he engages the listener with warmth and humour.” Patience Agbabi. Also some daft stuff!
Performing is what I like best, and what I’ve been doing for a while now – from Toronto to Alicante to Fakenham to Maastricht to New Delhi to New York to Swaffham.
I cut my teeth as a writer and performer with poetry ensemble The Joy of Six. I’ve gone on to publish several books. My first two shows have been performed at leading UK Poetry Festivals StAnza and Ledbury, as well as at London Roundhouse and Edinburgh Book and Fringe Festivals. They’ve also been performed in Holland and India.
Whistle was first performed in 2010 and won the Saboteur 2013 Best Spoken Word Show and was nominated for the Ted Hughes Award. A new edition of the book was published by Cinnamon Press in 2018. I won the Poetry Society’s Hamish Canham Prize in 2010 for the poem Victor from the collection. The show was revived for selected performances in 2018 and 2019. It has, fingers crossed, got another booking for 2021. Performances to date include: London Roundhouse, Stanza International Poetry Festival, Chester, Bristol, Chester, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Ledbury, India, Maastricht and Norfolk and Norwich Festivals.
Boring the Arse Off Young People (Nasty Little Press) was first published in 2010 and is still going strong after several print runs. It formed the basis of a show that toured pubs in the South as part of the Inn Crowd initiative.
I’ve been performing my second spoken word show Dr Zeeman’s Catastrophe Machine since 2016 and had bookings through 2020 and on into 2021, which are now in lockdown. It received major Arts Council Funding and was shortlisted for the Saboteur 2018 Best Spoken Word Show. Performances to date include: London Roundhouse, Stanza International Poetry Festival, Chester, Bristol, Chester, Edinburgh Book Festival,Ledbury, Masstricht and Norfolk and Norwich Festivals.
My next show Shed, with Theatre Volière was to be premiered at Library Theatre, Canada Water as part of the Marchland 2020 Season and at Norwich Arts Centre, unfortunately Covid came along the same week, so it never happened. It is now set for The Cockpit Theatre and Ink Festival in April 2024 (see Gigs page)!
In 2021 I was Poet-in-Residence for NHS Salisbury to write poems about the experience of staff at Salisbury Hospital during Covid. A pamphlet has now been published by Fair Acre Press and Olivia Coleman was filmed reading Night Shift and The Fifth Season from the book. My reading of Night Shift was selected for the Poetry Archive’s Worldview 2021. Commissions from a consortium of Social Care charities and Salisbury Cathedral have followed. The Social Care project was for their Memorial event and another pamphlet, Sixteen Sonnets for Care, with Fair Acre Press. Writing to commission, has had a profound effect on my writing process. I’m introducing the first hand witness accounts to events into my process for my forthcoming book: The Remaining Men with Cinnamon Press (Mar 23). It’s an exciting development and why it didn’t occur to more before I’m not sure – it draws on my past experience as a social documentary photographer perfectly.
I’ve had poems published in numerous magazines and anthologies. I’ve been placed or commended in a number of competitions. I was runner up in the Rialto / RSPB 2017 Poetry Competition, won the Café Writers’ Poetry Prize too long ago to remember, had two poems shortlisted in the Ledbury Poetry Competition, another in the 2015 Rialto / RSPB Competition, won Third Prize in the 2021 Hungry Hill Poetry Meets Politics Prize and highly commended in previous year. Most recently a poem was commended in the Trio International Poetry Competition.