I was born in Staffordshire in 1942. As an art student in Manchester I was influenced by the painter Norman Adams and his wife, the poet Anna Adams. I subsequently spent fourteen years as an art teacher in secondary schools trying to find time to paint. I made the break in 1978, taking on part-time jobs, only to find that painting was not what I wanted to do. Later, working with redundant men following the closure of Consett Steel Works, I helped to start reading and creative writing groups, and began to write myself. I had by then moved to a remote cottage near the Wild Hills o’Wanney in Northumberland which has links with the C19th ballad writer James Armstrong, author of Wannie Blossoms. I think he lingered on there and helped to keep me at it.
I have published six books of poetry and several pamphlet collections, including collaborations with the artist Birtley Aris. I was a Poetry Book Society Choice and short-listed for the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2008. My most recent book is Border, a New and Selected from Bloodaxe Books. Nowadays I live in Whitley Bay.