I was born in Sheffield and studied at Royal Holloway College, University of London, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (where I spent a scholarship year in 1980-81) and the University of Warwick. Having studied History as an undergraduate, and with a PhD in Political Science, I subsequently trained as a secondary school teacher of English and worked in Educational Research. I currently work at Sheffield Hallam University as a Principal Lecturer in Education.
I am also a poet and have worked as a freelance creative writing tutor in Higher Education and in community and other organisations, including a prison and local BBC radio. In 1998 my first full-length collection of poetry, Walking on Tiptoe, won the Staple First Editions Award for best manuscript. This book included a number of poems based on Dylan’s autism diagnosis and on the years immediately following diagnosis. The book is out of print now but was re-issued by Bluechrome Press in 2007 as Walking on Tiptoe and Other Poems. In 2000 I was awarded an Arts Council of England grant to complete my second full-length collection of poems, The Bat Detector (Wrecking Ball Press, 2005). The title sequence of poems and a further section of the book draw on my experience of living with autism. The violist Robin Ireland composed original solo viola music for some of the poems in The Bat Detector and these were released as a spoken word/music CD by Meridien Records in 2007. My most recent collection, A Dart of Green and Blue (Arc Publications, 2010) has a less explicit focus on autism although Dylan continues to make an appearance. I am currently working on a new manuscript, Spectrum, which (as the title suggests) returns strongly to the theme of autism. For more details about my poetry please see the Poems page.
Taking care of Dylan, working full time and writing doesn’t leave space for much else but I enjoy going to the cinema and theatre when I get chance and I’m a member of a great poetry workshop group which meets monthly to share new writing. Books, music and radio play a pretty important role in my life :-) Happily some of the activities which I enjoy most, like walking in Derbyshire and the Yorkshire Dales, are passions which Dylan shares (and Dylan’s introduced me to new pleasures such as steam trains!).
For an alternative biography please see the link below. Christy, at runningonsober, ran a series during 2014 in which she invited guests to tell the story of their life in six songs. I was honoured to be included in this and to have the chance to put together my own musical story.
For more information about Christy’s blog, and its impact on me, please see the Community page on this site.