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John Birtwhistle

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  • John Birtwhistle was born in Scunthorpe in 1946. His poetry has been recognised by an Eric Gregory Award, an Arts Council bursary, Arts Council creative writing fellowships, and a fellowship at the University of Southampton. His collection Our Worst Suspicions was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. He has had three libretti set and performed; of these, David Blake's The Plumber's Gift was staged by English National Opera and broadcast on Radio 3. For twelve years, he was a Lecturer in English at the University of York, teaching mainly the seventeenth century and Romantic periods. From 2012 to 2017, he was a literary contributor and eventually an Associate Editor of the quarterly BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. Birtwhistle is married to a Consultant Anaesthetist and since 1992 he has lived in Sheffield with his family.

    Photo: Mireille Berthoud

    Praise for John Birtwhistle 'In every poem language is made to work hard; image and thought are wholly fused, with economy and precision.'
    Ian Hughes
    'Many more fashionable poets write poems whose intellectual and sensuous impact is like those of woodcuts compared with Birtwhistle's engraver's skill.'
    James Sutherland-Smith
    'These lucid, witty, tender poems, by turns serious and comic, are full of felicitous surprises and unexpected turns of imagination.'
    Peter Jay
    'An ambitious and original poet, not afraid to take chances.'
    John Heath-Stubbs
    'A sweeping imagination ranges over past and future, pastoral and urban themes.'
    Dennis O'Driscoll
    'So rich in scope and style, with surprising shifts and echoes.'
    Imtiaz Dharker
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