writer / editor / publisher
A first full collection of poetry, peopled with crickets, eels, parrots and hermits, in exploration of sense and absurdity, prayer and grief.
‘A rare book -both strange and exhilarating; poems which bore and drill into the readers mind much like the earthworms, eels and other tiny guests vibrating on the pages.’ Mona Arshi.
'Skilfully precise and playfully mischievous, these poems embrace the spiritual, the cartoonish and everything in between with a mindful sensibility.' Isabel Galleymore.
Available from the Shearsman website Autumn 2020 here.
To listen to three very short poems from the collection please see the audio link to the left.
Ganda the rhinoceros was a celebrity when he arrived in Europe in the sixteenth century. Kings and popes were intrigued, while poets and artists raced to depict him regardless of whether they had seen him with their own eyes. Most notable among them was Albrecht Dürer, whose celebrated woodcut of Ganda is held in the British Museum.
Rhinoceros is a playful fragmented reflection on the life of Ganda and the position he assumed as representative of his species, layered with expectations from millennia of wonky natural histories, bestiaries and etymologies. It looks at the rhinoceros as a spectacle, tracing a literary journey from Diodorus and Pliny the Elder to Babar the Elephant and Disney, via unicorns, YouTube, Ionesco and the Medicis.
Published by Broken Sleep Books, October 2020.
A monster pulp-style novella about a young man who returns from war to confront a new, surprise enemy: radioactive eels. This story is part of the 'absurdity and conservation' publication project commissioned by the Sustainable Earth Institute and supported by the Sustainable Eel Group. The project was a collaboration between myself and John Kilburn, whose brilliant illustrations run throughout this volume. Published January 2019.
A playful sequence of prosey poetry, poemish prose and some poemish poetry, illustrated by John Dunbar Kilburn.
Robot Squirrel is a 'robotic wildlife coming of age story' about a robot wanting to be a squirrel. Published by zimZalla, 2017.
The clearing was my debut poetry pamphlet, beautifully produced by Atlantic Press and designed and illustrated by Mairead Dunne, who won the Michael Marks Award for illustration for her work on the book.
The poetry is sparse - brief moments of listening and watching as woodland birds move in and out of the clearing. Mairead's illustrations respond to and develop the senses of lighting, clearing and watching in a darkly evocative way. Published by Atlantic, 2016
Jack Clemo (1916-94) was a strange feature of the twentieth century’s literary landscape. Deaf and blind for most of his adult life and raised in poverty at the foot of a waste dump in the china clay mining region of Cornwall, Clemo's experience of the world was harsh and imposing. Using his rural-industrial landscape as a symbol for his faith and physical decline, Clemo produced some of the most surprising poetry of the era.
Clay Phoenix is the first biography of Clemo, drawing from an extensive archives that includes sixty years of diaries, letters (including to and from Charles Causley, Cecil Day Lewis, Mary Whitehouse, AL Rowse, Frances Bellerby, TF Powys, George MacBeth and Sir Arthur Quiller Couch), manuscripts of every volume of Clemo’s work and a large photograph collection. Published by Ally, 2016.
some books edited
Selected Poems of Jack Clemo
Introduced by Rowan Williams, edited and annotated by Luke Thompson, the Selected Poems of Jack Clemo includes work from all of his major volumes, from the 1951 The Clay Verge to 1995's The Cured Arno. Awkward, radical, nature-baiting landscape poems full of pain and anguish give way to monologues, biographical sketches, broader themes and looser forms. The settings of white tips, flooded pits and the grinding works of the industrial-rural clayscape are replaced by the rivers and bridges of Florence and Venice and the coastal ease of Dorset. However, as Rowan Williams states in his introduction, 'mellow is not the word' for this transformation. Clemo remained till the end a rare rebellious voice, representing a unique poetic perspective and personal experience. London: Enitharmon.
In 2016 Luke Thompson and Jos Smith invited the people of Exeter to tell their stories about the city’s trees. Tree Tales is the result, a collection of memories, artwork, photographs, articles, songs and poetry about Exeter’s extraordinary canopy. It is both a celebration of this one city’s urban silva and a wider reflection of the cultural importance of our trees today. Dorset: Common Ground.