I was born in London in 1942 but have lived most of my life in Hoole, a Victorian suburb of Chester.
I have been writing poetry since I was 14. In the summer holidays of 1957, I was on a day trip with my Auntie Renee to Llandudno. We were sitting on the steep slope above St Tudno’s church. Two things happened. Inspired by a poem about the terrors of a nuclear holocaust written by a sixth former and published in that summer term’s school magazine, I decided that I should be a poet. It seemed a grand thing to write about important subjects and be read by hundreds of people. (I hadn’t at that point actually written anything).
Before or after the decision, I can’t remember which, a group of nuns, in the long, black habits they wore then, left the church and climbed along one of the sheep tracks up the slope. My aunt will have commented on it, I’m sure, but I can’t remember what she said. The pristine image has stayed with me. I used it in a poem more than twenty years later and in a screenplay nearly forty years later.
While studying for a double honours degree in English and Philosophy at Liverpool University, I took over the ownership and editorship of the poetry magazine PHOENIX from Harry Chambers (Peterloo Poets).
I had a volume of poetry* published in the seventies and individual pieces published in magazines or broadcast on the radio before and since – and have won the Eric Gregory Award and the Felicia Hemans Prize.
Since 2001, after more than thirty years in education as a teacher and adviser – working mostly for Cheshire County Council – I have written four screenplays, two stage plays (for one of which, ‘Hear The Drums’, I was a prizewinner in the 2009 Sussex Playwrights Club full length play competition) and begun three novellas as well as continuing to write poems. (I was also chair of Action Transport Theatre from September 2001 to August 2011).
With some notable exceptions – the late Seamus Heaney, for example – the work of most contemporary poets is read by very few people and bought by even fewer.
I came to the conclusion that, in order for most poetry to reach as wide a readership as possible – and a readership which, if it chooses, can truly interact with the writer – publication on the web rather than in book form is the way forward.