Monday, 07 January 2013
John Agard was born in Guyana and lived in the Capital City, Georgetown, until he moved to London in 1977. As a child John loved cricket and liked to listen to the commentary on the radio. He says that he began to make up his own commentaries about the sport and this is what made him realise his interest in the sounds of words.
At school his favourite subjects were all languages; English, French and Latin, all subjects he went on to study at A level. John also liked taking part in school debates and plays and at fourteen acted as Captain Cook in Peter Pan. He remembers writing his first poetry when he was in the sixth-form.
John left school in 1967, and went straight into teaching. He taught the subjects that he had taken for his A level: English, French and Latin. John worked in a library in Georgetown after that. Then he worked as a sub-editor and wrote features on the newspapers. But his interest continued to be poetry, and eventually he had two of his books published in Guyana.
He left Guyana for various reasons, one of them being that his father had settled in London. In Britain John worked for the Commonwealth Institute for several years giving talks, readings and workshops. He continued to write and now lives in Surrey and works as a freelance writer and performer of poetry for both adults and children.
Recently John was the poet in residence at the BBC and played a key role in Windrush, the BBC season of programmes marking the 50th anniversary of the first major wave of West Indian.
Recent books by John include Points of View With Professor Peekaboo and A Child’s Year of Stories and Poems.