I was born in 1950. I live in Shetland with my husband. I have published nine collections of poetry and translations, plus a Selected Poems and a sort of mini-Selected, two novels and a critical study of fan fiction (see Books). I translate poems mainly from German but sometimes also from French and Ancient Greek. I read German and Russian at the University of Bristol and used to teach creative writing at the University of Glamorgan. I still visit Cardiff, where I used to live, regularly.
My interests are language, history, northern landscapes from Shetland to the Arctic and all points in between, snooker, mortality, cyberspace (I waste massive amounts of time online) and above all, people. I like to use poems to commemorate people and places, sometimes to amuse, to have a go at things I don't like (censorship, intolerance, pomposity) and above all to entertain.
I have been accused of being "populist" and "too accessible", both of which I hope are true.
I have won many prizes and awards, including the Forward Prize for best single poem of 1998, the Bridport Prize, the PHRAS prize, the Cardiff International Poetry Prize (twice) and the British Comparative Literature Association's Translation Prize. My poems have been included in several anthologies, notably Poems on the Underground and The Hutchinson Book of Post-War British Poetry. They have also been set to music, have appeared on the trams of Helsinki and the St Petersburg Underground, and have been translated into German, French, Italian, Russian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch.
My blog is here. It's usually about writing-related stuff.
My poem "What If This Road" appears on posters on the Tyne & Wear Metro as part of the Tyne & Motion poetry project - see here.
I read at the Wordplay festival at Mareel, Lerwick, this year on 31st August with David Harsent.
I've been busy lately helping to judge the Forward Prizes for 2013, along with Jeanette Winteson, Paul Farley, Sam West and David Mills - the shortlist should be out in late June. Also did a reading in London for Pelmeni Poets. Next reading now will be at the Shetland Wordplay festival in early October.
I have a poem in a new anthology in aid of rhino conservation: For Rhino in a Shrinking World, edited by Harry Owen. You can buy it on this site.
I have a poem in a new anthology, Newspaper Taxis; Poetry After The Beatles, now out from Seren.
I have a poem, The Eye, in the Best Scottish Poems section of the Scottish Poetry Library's website.
My recording with the Poetry Archive is now live. You can listen to some poems from it and also buy the CD here.
I have another collection in preparation with Seren, now firmly titled titled Short Days, Long Shadows. That should come out in June 2014.
There's a new poem now online at Poetry Daily - The Sailor Who fell From The Rigging, first published in Poetry Wales.
One of my poems has been chosen to be part of the Shetland project Bards in the Bog, which puts poems up in Shetland public toilets. All the poems chosen are also on their website here.
I've got two poems in the edition of Horizon Review online here.
I wrote a poem about the Chilean miners' rescue, "Return", which I've published on my blog here. It has now also been published in PN Review no 198.
Just so people know - I am happy to do readings, or talk about my own work and poetry or literary translation more generally, but I don't really want to do workshops any more. I have spent 20 years leading creative writing workshops for a living and I've had enough of them. But I do go into schools to read and talk about my poems. This may be less easy in future, because I now live most of the time in a less accessible place. Your best chance is to give me lots of notice so that we can sort out a date.
I've been making some YouTube vids, or rather Amy Wack of Seren has been making them while I read the poems. Here's "The Beautiful Lie". There are others on the Links page. A performer called Jane Learmonth has also put up a vid of her reading my poem "It's Only Love".
Seren has published my Later Selected Poems, which contains work from five post-1990 collections, Sing for the Taxman, Id's Hospit, Stonelight, The Beautiful Lie and The Movement of Bodies. Go here to see more about the Later Selected and a sample poem.
Not poetry-related, but I have moved from Wales and now live in Shetland. Whether this makes me a Shetland poet, or a Welsh poet in exile, I'm not sure! The literary translator Sadurní Vergés has put a Catalan translation of "The Extra" on his blog Distopies.If you have queries the FAQs don't answer, you can always email me. Students may also find my blog helpful.