About John Mole

Rhythm is at the heart of the ways in which John grabs us and brings us along as he tells stories about family, school, history and all sorts of animals. John’s poems are interested in how we fit into the world, and where, whether by talking about how the language we use makes us stand out or how other people’s language might make us feel different.

In a poem like ‘Nothing Personal’, John takes the words of someone talking to a person in a way that makes them feel left out and shows how by being clever with the words they choose they try to make it seem as if it’s not their fault – it’s up to us to work out what they’re really saying.

John’s reading of his poems helps to bring their rhythms and rhymes to life, his clear delivery helping to make the word patterns and music of his language sing out, while his skill at choosing the pace and tone of his voice for each poem helps us to feel the joy, fun or – in some cases – sadness at the root of his work.

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John’s poems use a wide range of forms. Lots of John’s poems rhyme, and use forms like ballads and limericks, while others take song’s shapes and put new words to these old rhythms.  John also uses free verse at times, but even when there’s no formal pattern his great ear for the sound of words makes his poems feel sharply musical.

John was born in Somerset and has written lots of books of poetry for both adults and children, winning several awards along the way.

As well as writing poems, John has also been a jazz clarinettist for many years, and it’s plain to see from his song-like poems that jazz, and music in general, has had a huge influence on the way he thinks about poems, getting a lot of meaning from the sounds words make as well as how they look on the page.

John has also taught, in England and in New York, and been a writer in residence at universities and for the City of London, as well as making programmes for radio. He’s said that he loves surprise in poems, and that at school he wanted to be a novelist until he found poetry that he loved.

​John’s recording was made on August 22nd 2017 at The Soundhouse, London. It was produced by Richard Carrington.

Featured in the Archive

Selected Bibliography

Keeping in Step, Shoestring Press, 2023

Thin Air, Shoestring Press, 2021

Gold to Gold, Shoestring Press, 2020

All the Frogs, Salt Publishing, 2010

This is the Blackbird, Peterloo Poets, 2007

The Wonder Dish, Oxford University Press, 2002

The Dummy's Dilemma, Hodder, 1999

Copy Cats, Kingfisher, 1997

Hot Air, Hodder, 1996

Back By Midnight, Puffin, 1994

The Conjurer's Rabbit, Blackie, 1992

Catching the Spider, Blackie, 1990

The Mad Parrot's Countdown, Peterloo, 1990

Boo to a Goose, Peterloo, 1987

Once there were Dragons, Deutsch, 1979


1970 Eric Gregory Award

1988 Signal Award for Poetry

1994 Cholmondeley Award

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