JEAN ATKIN in study 2015 credit L Greatorex (2)
This race of meltwater,
sweet talker, springs growth
from the winter
bed of the wood

‘Atkin is one of the most original and rewarding poets that we have in the literary landscape at the moment’
R V Bailey, reviewing in ‘Envoi’

I’m a poet, writer and experienced educator, based in Shropshire. I’ve worked on a variety of residencies in both England and Scotland and provide workshops and readings to schools, festivals and community and national organisations. I often work in collaboration with arts and community projects – I’ve just been Poet in Residence for Wem Town Hall, been Spellwrighting for Ledbury Poetry Festival in their lovely new Poetry House – and I’m also Poet in Residence for Hargate Primary School in West Bromwich. I’m a tutor for Arvon. In 2020, because of the pandemic, I created The Poetry Wire, a website for sharing work within a small closed group for whom I write regular prompts, and provide detailed feedback.  Once a week we meet for a social readaround on Zoom.  The Poetry Wire has now run eight sold-out courses with more planned for later in 2022.  I’ve really enjoyed this way of working, and met so many warm and talented poets.

In 2021 I published two new books – Fan-peckled (Fair Acre Press) about the lost words of Shropshire; and The Bicycles of Ice and Salt (IDP) about two long and long-ago journeys I made by bicycle.  My thanks to IDP who kindly nominated poems from ‘How Time is in Fields’ and ‘The Bicycles of Ice and Salt’ for the Pushcart Prize this year.

In 2019 I was Troubadour of the Hills for Ledbury Poetry Festival, and National Poetry Day’s BBC Poet for Shropshire – for which I wrote a commissioned poem for the county.  It turned out that Shropshire has harboured many unexpected elephants.  You can read the poem, watch it and hear it here.   I also make poetry in health and wellbeing contexts, including Social Prescription, and am experienced in working with the very elderly, and people living with dementia.  I like to work in collaboration with other artists and organisations when the opportunity arises.
For seven years I organised The Poetry Lounge, Ludlow’s spoken word night, but since moving up the road to Shrewsbury, I’m now working with Shrewsbury Poetry Night, although we’re still confined to Zoom because of the pandemic.

I provide ‘poetry-theatre’ as The Spellwright for festivals and events: Spells Written To Your Requirements Without Delay.  I’ve written spells for growing wings, for opening locked doors, for persuading an owl to speak, for invisibility – and many more.  There is a candle. And red sealing wax, and a brass seal.

I mentor emerging poets, lead online poetry courses and work regularly with children and young people, often through Writing West Midlands – for seven years I worked as a lead writer for Spark Young Writers.  With all this going on, I’ve found it vital to be a professional member of NAWE and have an enhanced DBS certificate.

My latest books are The Bicycles of Ice and Salt (IDP, 2021) and Fan-peckled (Fair Acre Press, 2021) in collaboration with artist/illustrator Katy Alston.  My second collection, How Time is in Fields was published in spring 2019 by Indigo Dreams Publishing, and launched at Cheltenham Poetry Festival.  I’ve previously published Not Lost Since Last Time with Oversteps Books (2013), pamphlets with Roncadora Press, Ravenglass Press and Biscuit Tin Press, and a children’s novel, The Crow House.  And I have a taxidermied Crow, who comes to workshops with me.

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