I am a poet and tutor. My latest collection of poems is Jam (Smith/Doorstop, 2016). A former Poetry Society poet-in-residence and the author of Jumpstart Poetry in the Secondary School, I have led courses and workshops throughout the UK and abroad.
My poetry collections include Henry’s Clock (1999) which won both the Aldeburgh first collection prize and the Poetry Business book & pamphlet competition, Frank Freeman’s Dancing School (2009), which received an Arts Council Writers’ Award, and Jam (2016). I have an ebook Selected Poems (2015) and three pamphlets: 14 Ways of Listening to the Archers, Emergency Rations, and Bike, Rain. I have published extensively on the teaching of creative writing in the TES and other journals, and have published short stories, criticism and poetics.
TEACHING & FREELANCE WORK
I was Deputy Head and English teacher at Maharishi School in Skelmersdale where my students were particularly successful at winning creative writing competitions including the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Awards, WH Smith Young Writers and Young Poets on the Underground. Following this success, I was commissioned to write Jumpstart Poetry in the Secondary School by the Poetry Society. I’ve broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service and my teaching has been the subject of articles in the Guardian and the Times Educational Supplement.
A former Poetry Society poet-in-residence and TES Guest Poet, I have taught creative writing in higher education and have led courses and workshops for the Arvon Foundation, the Poetry Society, the British Council, the Poetry School, universities and schools in the UK and abroad. I am a Writing Project Associate (Royal Literary Fund) and a former Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Aston University.
I was born in Birmingham and grew up in Birmingham and Kidderminster, where I was a regular at Frank Freeman’s legendary Sunday Club. The photo on the cover of the first edition of Frank Freeman’s Dancing School is of Captain Beefheart playing live at Frank’s. John Peel told the story of how he drove Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band to Kidderminster for the gig, and when he told them where they were playing, they said, ‘Wow, that’s a really groovy name.’ Peel said: ‘No, it’s not a groovy name, it’s a dancing school run by a bloke called Frank Freeman’.
Leaving school at sixteen, I did a variety of jobs before returning to full-time education and obtaining degrees from Swansea University and the University of Warwick. I learnt Transcendental Meditation, as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in the 1970s, trained as a teacher and taught TM in England and Wales. I completed a PhD in Poetry & Poetics in 2006 and was a founder member of the Poetry & Poetics Research Group at Edge Hill University convened by Robert Sheppard. I’m now based in Cheltenham, not so far from where I grew up. My brother took the photo of the plane flying in front of the sun on the cover of Jam. He calls it ‘our book’.