John Gilham

John GilhamJohn Gilham was brought up in Hounslow, West London, underneath the flight-path to Heathrow. He first began writing poetry in his teens, achieving a few magazine publications and doing some outdoor readings at Speakers Corner in Hyde Park. After studying English and American Literature at Edinburgh University he returned to Hounslow where he worked in industry for four years before abandoning that to take a further degree in Medieval Studies (Anglo-Saxon) at the University of York. Here too he met his American-born wife, Carol.

John still lives in York, where he has a day job with a local housing association. Poetry took a back seat for quite a while (3 children, job, house etc) but he has been writing again steadily since the late ‘80s and has been published in numerous magazines including Acumen, Dreamcatcher, Aireings, Pennine Platform, Other Poetry, The North and The Rialto. He performs regularly at poetry open mic events in York. John is a member of the British Haiku Society and his haiku appear in the society’s magazine, Blithe Spirit.

As John doesn't own a car or a television, can't drive, and has no interest in football or celebrities some may fear that his horizons are limited. However, he describes himself as a born-again ferroequinologist, whose enthusiasms include London, poetry, pubs, landscape, jazz, cycling, European travel, eggs, and visiting his grown-up children and their children.  Nordic jazz beside a fjord,  quaffing weissbier beside the Rhine on a cycle epic across Germany, introducing his children to the delights of Paris, a full-English in a Lake District cafe, inhaling the aroma of oil and soot from a steam locomotive, listening to poems at the Spoken Word open mic over a pint of Yorkshire bitter, just being in London - all these influence his poetry from time to time.  More seriously, a visit to the area of the Ypres Salient, where his grandfather served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in WWI has strengthened the already fierce anti-war stance which runs through his work. He is occasionally seduced into historical speculation by the "Matter of Britain".

Fosdyke and Me and Other Poems published in 2010 by Stairwell Books and Fighting Cock Press is a semi-autobiographical (it didn’t all happen quite like that) reminiscence of his early years. The Fosdyke poems recount the travails of two young men growing up in the not-so-swinging ‘60s, companions in misfortune, fellow sufferers in the toils of love, their lives set on a hilarious and seemingly irreversible downward course, joint losers in the lottery of achievement and fame.

In 2015 John was appointed Editor of Dream Catcher Magazine, a prestigious international literary journal, ably following its founder, Paul Sutherland to edit a journal both profound and eclectic.

Fosdyke and Me, John GilhamFosdyke and Me and Other Poems is published jointly by Stairwell Books and Fighting Cock Press. Both presses have ties to York and North Yorkshire and John has been a popular feature of Open Mics and literary events in the area.

The Fosdyke stories are very funny and ring true to every reader who was young in the 50s and 60s. Those same readers were taught by teachers who had fought in the war, many of whom were injured physically and mentally by their experiences.

After entertaining us with Fosdyke, John takes time out to remind us that no one, in a time of war, is innocent, neither combatants nor those who stayed at home

Fighting Cock Press

Fighting Cock Press.

Learning to Breathe CoverIn Learning to Breathe John Gilham offers a strong sense of the past forming a springboard for reflections on our present and future. John is the master of the lyrical. After reading his poems you know you have experienced something life changing and unique.

Asked what he writes about, mostly, John Gilham replied, “Love, Death, Rage.”  In this collection he moves between the mythic and the domestic, between the pain of early abandonment and the joy of maturity, set against a background of anger at the folly of war and at the destruction of the world’s resources.  He has an acute sense of the interpenetration of history, religion, geography, the stories that landscapes tell, and the contemporary world.

Listen to John’s interview on University Radio York with Angelica Curzi: