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Image by Caroline Forbes

Kit Wright

b. 1944


I think so highly of poetry that I've dedicated my life to it. It's the most important thing to me. - Kit Wright

Ode to Didcot Power Station

Kit Wright

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How the Wild South East Was Lost

Kit Wright

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Hoping It Might Be So

Kit Wright

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About Kit Wright

Kit Wright (b. 1944) is the author of more than twenty-five books, for both adults and children, and the winner of awards including an Arts Council Writers' Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Hawthornden Prize, the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award and (jointly) the Heinemann Award. After a scholarship to Oxford, he worked as a lecturer in Canada, then returned to England and a position in the Poetry Society. He is currently a full-time writer.

His poetry can move elegantly through the tensions between restraint and emotion, as in 'Sonnet for Dick' which, by beginning in stiff-lipped restraint - the dead man was "a useful number six who could whack it about" - makes the grief in the poem, once expressed, all the more powerful. Similarly, in 'Red Boots On', a great glimpse of joy in the snow, one of the pleasures of the poem is seeing the poet's exuberantly stomping girlfriend through the speaker's more hesitant viewpoint.

Wright's reading voice is an example of what "well-spoken" refers to. He is clearly aware of the assumptions this can lead to, teasing himself for it in 'How the Wild South-East Was Lost', which he introduces as an attempt "to describe my upbringing as though it had been other than soft." Other introductions include explanations of references, inspirations, and allusions to other poems - or songs. One of the high points, 'The Orbison Consolations', suggests to the singer of 'Only the Lonely' that he should restrain his hyperbole, giving a list of other types of people who, right up to "lastly the ghastly / Know the way you feel tonight."

That enjoyment of rhyme means that Wright has been compared to Betjeman, and this is certainly evident in his easy way with formal features. While some poems revel in that, others lull us into feelings of jauntiness before giving us a real jolt. This can best be seen in 'I Found South African Breweries Most Hospitable', a savage satire on the boycott-breaking English cricket team of the 1980s. This reading shows that, as the poet Anthony Wilson has said, Wright "can be funny, serious and moving, and sometimes all three in the space of a single poem".

His recording was made on 31 March 2003 at The Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.

Kit Wright's Favourite Poetry Saying:

"I like what vamped me / In my youth: / Tune, argument, / Colour, truth." - Kit Wright (from 'Poetry')

Selected bibliography

The Magic Box: Poems for Children Pan Macmillan, 2009

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A Lisbon Sheaf King's Lynn Poetry Festival, 2006

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Kit Wright Reading from his Poems, The Poetry Archive...

Write Away, Times Supplements 2000

Hoping It Might Be So: Poems 1974-2000, Leviathan 2000;...

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Rumpelstiltskin, Scholastic 1998

Dolphinella (illustrated by Peter Bailey), André Deutsch...

Great Snakes (illustrated by Posy Simmonds), Viking 1994...

Tigerella (illustrated by Peter Bailey), André Deutsch...

Prizes

1977 Alice Hunt Bartlett Award The Bear Looked Over the Mountain

1978 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize The Bear Looked Over the Mountain

Prize website

1985 Arts Council Writers' Award

Prize website

1990 Heinemann Award Short Afternoons

Prize website

1995 Hawthornden Fellowship

Links

Recordings

Kit Wright Reading from his Poems

1Advice for Attending a Hundredth Birthday Party

2Mantles

3Waiting for the 242

4Hoping it Might be So

5Missing, 1944

6Belongings

7Sonnet for Dick

8The Day Room

9How The Wild South East Was Lost

10The Adventures of Patience

11Tune for an Ice Cream Van

12The Apprehenders

13Elizabeth

14The Council of the Gods

15Red Boots On

16I Found South African Breweries Most Hospitable

17Hardly Believable Horace and Hattie in Hell

18Short Afternoons

19The Sub-Song

20Moorhouse

21Ode to Didcot Power Station

22The Boys Bump-Starting the Hearse

23The Yoke

24A Horrid Old Man Reads A Cookery Book

25A Light Toast

26The Orbison Consolations

27Every Day In Every Way

A tour of the Archive with Danielle McShine

The Poetry Archive is an invaluable resource for hearing some of my favourite poems, read by their authors, and for...

Featured Guided Tours


Books & cds by Kit Wright