About John Agard
John is one of the most electrifying readers around, and the energy and dazzle he brings to his performance is matched by the surprise and variety of his work. Born in Guyana in the Caribbean, John moved to Britain in the 1970s and much of his work has to do with the experience of leaving home, of being met with difficulties because of the colour of his skin and his background when he arrived, and of trying to stay connected with his home and his history.
Although much of what John writes about is deadly serious he brings a great wit and playfulness to his poems, meaning that he can make audiences laugh as well as think, whether it’s talking in a poem like ‘Checking Out Me History’ about all the history lessons not taught in school, to taking apart the term ‘Half-caste’ to show how foolish it is when used as an insult.
John’s readings are magical. At times he bursts into song to move the rhythm along, at others he slows down to make sure we catch every syllable, even making his voice sound like an old hymn at church when the need arises!
John uses a whole range of styles and forms in his work, from traditional poetic forms like sonnets and end rhyme to free verse and list poems.
John was born in Guyana and his love of cricket as a boy was partly behind his first attempts at writing – he used to make up his own commentary for the matches and realised he loved to play with language! He started writing poems while he was still at school.
John worked as a journalist before moving to the UK in the 1970s and has won lots of big prizes for his work.
John Agard's recording was made on 26th November 2009 at the Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Anne Rosenfeld.
Clever Backbone, Bloodaxe, 2009
Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems , Bloodaxe, 2009
The Young Inferno, Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2009
We Brits, Bloodaxe, 2006
Half-caste and other poems, Hodder Education, 2004
Weblines, Bloodaxe, 2000
From the Devil's Pulpit, Bloodaxe, 1997
Why is the Sky, Faber & Faber, 1996
The Heinemann Book of Carribean Poetry, Bloodaxe, 1992
2007 British Book Awards Decibel Writer of the Year for We Brits (shortlist)
2003 Cholmondeley Award
1997 Paul Hamlyn Award for Poetry
1982 Casa de las Américas Prize
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