I am of Welsh-Scottish heritage, born in Berlin in the late 1960s to a Scottish soldier and a Nairobi-born book editor and teacher.
I studied English language and Literature at Hull University, and have an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University.
I worked in L’Arche in Sussex in the 1990s, developing work projects and supporting people in their homes, later supporting clients with learning disabilities to gain and retain employment as part of Swindon Borough Council’s Connect Supported Employment project (2001-09). In 2009-10, as Skills Factory Coordinator, I developed a new series of training initiatives for Year 9 – 10 students – including a small car valeting business! In 2010-11, I was a Trainer, delivering employment skills training to clients with a wide variety of needs, including Jobcentreplus clients.
Between 2011-13, I was the Ammerdown Centre’s Training and Interfaith Officer, leading retreats, delivering training days for local schools, and developing the Centre’s outreach to local Muslims. I believe passionately in getting to know the other; tolerance is not enough; an active respect means we engage and learn.
Since 2014, having completed a PGCE at Cardiff University, I’ve been a Lecturer in English and Creative Writing in Swindon. I continue to lead music retreats, and training events, in various locations across the UK.
My poetry has been published in the US and in the Irish Republic, and I am developing libretti with international choral composers such as Kim Andre Arnesen,Timothy Tharaldson and Paul Spicer. This has resulted in two choral symphonies, a multi-movement Christmas work, and a number of shorter pieces, some of which are best sellers. ‘Flight Song’, for example, has forty different performance on YouTube and has sold thousands of copies!
I am a keen doublebass player and singer, and love the vibrant, changing life of the forest hills and of the two great rivers below my house; each day is always rediscovery.
As a teacher, the reality of a person’s potential and strength, what a person could be, drives me – helping a person to discover the fullness of what they have to offer, regardless of ability. I learn daily from his students how to enable a person to bring out and express their gifts and capabilities for themselves.
For me, poetry is the “leaves to a tree” song of a living, vital, abundant life behind what is seen, infused from the outset by Keats, Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Wordsworth, later by Larkin and R.S. Thomas, and always by the energy of European and American poetry, my verbal imagination transformed by such giants as Czesław Miłosz, Ninia Cassian, Miroslav Holub and Dylan Thomas, by Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, and Barbara Guest, by great Arab poets such as Mahmoud Darwish, and now by such great contemporary voices such as Ocean Vuong, Jackie Kay and Daljit Nagra. It is an exciting and continuing journey.