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Jeffrey Wainwright

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  • Jeffrey Wainwright was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1944 and was educated locally and at the University of Leeds. He has taught at the University of Wales, Long Island University in Brooklyn and for many years at the Manchester Metropolitan University where he was Professor in the Department of English and its Writing School until 2008.

    His first poetry collection was published by Northern House in 1971 and first full book, Heart’s Desire, by Carcanet in 1978. Carcanet Press also publish his Selected Poems (1985), The Red-Headed Pupil (1994), Out of the Air (1999) and Clarity or Death! (2008), The Reasoner (2012), What Must Happen (2016) and most recently As Best We Can (2020). He has translated plays by Péguy, Claudel and Corneille for BBC Radio 3 and his version of Bernard-Marie Koltès' In the Silence of Cotton Fields was broadcast in March 1999 and among other stage productions is the one by the Actors Touring Company in London and tour September-November 2001. The text is available in Koltès: Plays 2 (Methuen 2004).

    For eleven years, 1989-99, he was northern theatre critic of The Independent contributing twenty or more reviews per year. Radio work has included reviews for Kaleidoscope, Night Waves and On Air. His book, Poetry the Basics, was published by Routledge in April 2004, third edition 2016, and his book on the poetry of Geoffrey Hill, Acceptable Words, in 2005. He has also published many articles on modern and contemporary poetry. He lives in Manchester and for part of the year in Umbria.
      'In Wainwright's philosophising lies a questioning, experimental and playful essence hidden in household objects, imaginary ships and childhood homes [...] As Best We Can contains delicate balances'

    Ben Ray, Oxford Review of Books

    'As Best We Can is a defining poetic moment of 2020.'

    Steve Whittaker, Yorkshire Times

     'There are some lovely individual poems here, like 'Spring Walk', 'Seascape' and 'The Window-Ledge'. But best are the poems of loss and change, about growing up in the Potteries after the War'
    Andy Croft, The Morning Star
    'Many of these quiet poems have a disproportionately unsettling effect... This is work that comes from slow attention, proper effort and commitment to understanding.'
    Steve Hanson, Manchester Review of Books
     'What Must Happen is at once a lyrical meditation on the nature of history and on ourselves as perceiving subjects in a world of objects and other species. It ranges confidently across different geographies and societies  from working lives in Josiah Wedgewood's Etruria in the Potteries to the example of the Eternals: Jupiter, Venus, and Apollo. Combining sinuous intelligence with humanity and compassion, Jeffrey Wainwright's latest collection puts him at the forefront of contemporary English poets.'
    John Whale
    'Jeffrey Wainwright's work is among the most interesting of any poet now writing'
    The Guardian
    Awards won by Jeffrey Wainwright Short-listed, 2017 Arnold Bennett Book Prize (What Must Happen )
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