I just noticed that the Stephen Spender Trust has added an audio recording to their website, of me reading from my Chaucer translation at the London reception for the 2016 Stephen Spender Prize.

Click here to read the text, and here to listen to me read my translation of the opening stanzas of Troilus and Criseyde, which was awarded Third Prize that year. Happy memories.

FYI I’ve now finished translating the whole of Book 1 of Troilus – 1,092 lines of rime royal. It’s been terrific fun, and has given my metrical muscles a good workout.

So far Troilus has seen Criseyde for the first time, been thunderstruck with love, and – in traditional male fashion – has done a lot of moping in his bedroom, followed by plenty of complaining to his best friend. But things are afoot, as Pandarus assures Troilus he has a cunning plan…

…Only another four books to go.


(Audio) Mimi Khalvati Interview: Poetry as Discovery

July 6, 2018

I’ve just released an interview with Mimi Khalvati on my 21st Century Creative podcast, where she reads some of her poems and talks about her creative process. My own poetry has benefitted hugely from Mimi’s teaching and feedback over many years, so I’m delighted to feature her on the podcast. She has a lot of […]

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‘Hiroshima’ and Other Poems – Now on My Website

September 29, 2017

Now that Oxford Poetry XVI.III has sold out, I’ve taken the opportunity to add my poem from the issue, ‘Hiroshima’, to the poetry page of my website, and refresh the selection of my poems there. Here are the links for the individual poems: Hiroshima The Illusionist The Future Proem from Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde (translation) […]

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Poem: ‘Hiroshima’, in Oxford Poetry

March 7, 2017

Even though I was expecting it, as the bullet train pulled into the platform it was still a shock to see the word ‘Hiroshima’ on the sign, in the same everyday font used for station names all over Japan. I will never forget the things I saw in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, or the […]

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My Chaucer Translation – Third Place in the Stephen Spender Prize

December 4, 2016

I’m delighted to report that a passage from my translation of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde has been awarded third prize in this year’s Stephen Spender Prize, as announced in the Guardian. I’ve been working on the translation for over two years – the poem is over 8,000 lines long – and it’s great to receive […]

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The New Yorker Poetry Podcast

October 29, 2016

Supposing you were sitting in a New York diner, and you couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between two men in the booth behind you. As you tuned into the American and Northern Irish accents, you realised you were eavesdropping on John Ashbery and Paul Muldoon shooting the breeze about poetry. Ashbery read a poem by […]

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The Canterbury Tales – Mamas and the Papas Version (Plus reading in London Monday 17 November)

November 13, 2014

In a parallel universe, the Canterbury Tales were written and performed by the Mamas and the Papas. This video gives us a glimpse of that universe. Beautiful and mad. Courtesy of Lucian James. If you’re in London next Monday 17th November, you might like to pop along to the Troubadour where I’ll be reading a […]

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Poem: ‘The Illusionist’, in The Rialto

June 26, 2014

My poem ‘The Illusionist’ has just been published in Issue 80 of The Rialto, which has been one of my favourite poetry magazines for years. The poem is loosely based on an experience of watching the filming of a TV magic show, one of those rare instances of what might be called poetic déjà vu: […]

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Lark in the Morning: The Verses of the Troubadours

March 31, 2014

We all know vaguely who the troubadours were: those minstrels with (in Ezra Pound’s words) “trunk-hose and the light guitar” who wandered through the middle-ages, serenading ladies outside their windows and dodging jealous glances (and arrows) from the lord of the castle. They mastered the game of courtly love, or fin amor, and inspired generations […]

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Machi Tawara, Mount Fuji Tanka Calendar

January 10, 2014

Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting Machi Tawara when she visited the UK to read at the Ledbury Festival. She kindly gave us a copy of her latest book Mount Fuji Tanka Calendar – a collection of tanka for children and adults, with illustrations of Mount Fuji by U.G. Sato. From the publisher’s […]

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