It has been said of John Siddique that he is the ideal poet for twenty-first century Britain. Straddling the contemporary from an Anglo, Irish, and Indian heritage - his writing is direct and human, reflecting the world and people of today. His work has at times been compared to that of Philip Larkin and ee cummings, yet his voice is uniquely his own. His passion for sharing literature sees him drawing on the whole tradition of poetry and often creating and working in a whole range of places where you would not expect to find art. He has worked in prisons, schools, and hospitals, and is involved in promoting regeneration and renaissance through the creation of public art. He was recently commissioned to create a poem for the seaside town of Blackpool, which will be permanently installed by the sea . John is The British Council's Los Angeles Writer in Residence 2009.
He is well known for his captivating readings, and his ability to communicate with all types of audiences opening up the world of poetry and language. He often works with the Arvon Foundation, British Council, and The Poetry Society, and has been a visiting lecturer in The UK, Europe and USA.
Inside # 2 “There is no more time”
9.47, the peak of the morning rush is
beginning to subside, though the tube is
closed so he's taking the bus to work.
A woman at the front of the bus is
on her way to her course. There is
a girl on her way to the dentist, and
a cleaner on her way home. A bus full
of people like this and more.
Then there is no more time, just a flash.
No time for fear. Here then gone, or
unconscious, or at the edge, or screaming.
All fixed in their own heads a moment ago,
busy being late for things, tired, looking forward
to a cup of tea, or just getting there
to get out of this traffic.
9.47 lasts forever and ticks on for the rest of us.
Before and after the application of words. Divide
the hour, divide the minute, sub-divide the second,
keep on dividing and time ceases to exist.
© John Siddique 2009
From ‘RECITAL – An Almanac' (SALT)
In ‘The White Goddess,' Robert Graves talks about the role of the poet as a kind of secular priest, someone who will help find the words people need when they don't have them for themselves. In many ways my new book Recital, like my previous work, is a shamanistic book. This time though I wanted to look at the national wound of deceit. The way Britain is right now, and over the last thirty years has been very hurtful for us as a populace. I think that wound reached its peak after the London Bombings with the blundering police murder of Jean Charles de Menezes. Shamanism seeks to create a structure to heal the wound through symbolism, reaching in to the unconscious, descending into the dark and finding structures to bring us back to a place that balances light and dark. Ted Hughes used the animal world a great deal in order to create these magical structures. Of course he had his own wounds too, as do we all. I try to use more ordinary symbols drawn from our daily lives, rather than animals or landscape.
The poems in Recital play out over a mythical year marked by the thirteen moons of that year. I wanted to create a book from the world of the unconscious, the lunar. Many of the poems are personal, relating to love, betrayal, trying to understand the reality of life. It is also about the spiritual quest for the father; in many ways these pieces mirror the elements of the modern British psyche. I do deal directly with the London bombings and what followed. I needed to know those events from the inside, what goes through someone's mind as they are about to set a bomb off on a bus, what are the limits of what we can talk about as a nation, and I wanted to stand where Jean Charles de Menezes was killed and see what had been absorbed into our body, the aspect we all share as Britons. In many ways the book is a long love poem for my country, and I hope that in the reading of it people will see themselves within the text. I'm currently working on my next collection and if Recital is a lunar book, the next one is at this point a solar work. Where things go after that we'll have to see.
Recital – An Almanac (SALT) ISBN 9781844715145
Poems from a Northern Soul (Crocus) ISBN 0946745870
Don't wear it on your head (Peepal Tree) ISBN 1845230566
Four Fathers (Co-author) (ROUTE) ISBN 190192727X
Transparency (as Editor) (Crocus) ISBN 0946745722
The Prize (Rialto) ISBN 0952744481
A Painter's Sky - a short play for BBC Radio 3's ‘Freethinking' Festival
New Writing15 (Granta) – ISBN 1862079323
The Fire People (Payback/Canongate) ISBN 0862417392
Velocity (Apples & Snakes/Black Spring) ISBN 0948238283
Masala (MacMillan) ISBN 0330415018
Anthology of British South Asian Poetry (Redbeck) ISBN 0946980764
Life Lines – Poets for Oxfam CD
Prizes & Awards
Shortlisted for CPLE Poetry Award 2007
Nominated for Best First Collection - Forward Prize 2005
Nominated for Best Poem - Forward Prize 2004
Arts Council of England Writer's Awards 2005, 2006, 2007
Contact & Links
To find out more about John, go to www.johnsiddique.co.uk