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James Brookes



James Brookes was born in 1986 and grew up in rural Sussex, a few minutes’ walk from Shelley’s boyhood home of Field Place. In 1999 he won the top academic scholarship to Cranleigh School in Surrey, going from there to read English & Creative Writing at Warwick University, where he was senior student editor of the Warwick Review, and to postgraduate study at the College of Law.

He received a major Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2009 and his pamphlet The English Sweats was published by Pighog Press in the same year.

His work has appeared in a wide variety of places including Poetry ReviewThe RialtoHorizon ReviewThe White ReviewThe Wolf, the Swedish journal Signum and on a church pew in Taunton, Somerset. He has been invited to read at the Cuisle Festival in Limerick and the Poetry Hearings Festival in Berlin, as well as the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford and the Ledbury Poetry Festival.

In 2011 he was awarded a Hawthornden International Writer’s Fellowship. He has returned to Cranleigh, where he is currently the Williams Librarian and also teaches English and History. He lives there with his wife, the poet and critic Charlotte Newman.


‘The astonishingly-accomplished debut of a poet who will surely take his place among the very best of his generation.’ —Ian Duhig

‘For its energy of expression, fearlessness and sheer verbal beauty, Sins of the Leopard is a magnificent debut’ —David Morley

‘In Brookes’s hands, “Britain is real again”, suddenly lit up by the fierce glint of a scouring intelligence.’ —Andrew McCulloch

‘James Brookes writes a wonderfully rich and achieved poetry which reminds me our very best practitioners such as Geoffrey Hill and David Harsent. His profound knowledge of the resources of English history and its protean language does not, however, mean he works with a restricted scope; it is a grounding for his investigation of the world's strange treasurehouse conducted with such a challenging and imaginative musical power it is hard to believe that 'Sins of the Leopard' is his first full collection.’ —Ian Duhig

‘James Brookes, a recent Gregory Award winner, gets graphically muscular purchase on the bloody business of English history in his impressive debut … In Brookes’s hands, “Britain is real again”, suddenly lit up by the fierce glint of a scouring intelligence, brought grippingly alive in a language that combines Anglo-Saxon clout with Latinate gravitas. This is in every sense a generous book from a generously gifted young poet.’ —Andrew McCulloch

‘The weight of each line here, each clause and syllable, is perfectly judged. That phrase ‘dirigible angel’ is a mark of Brookes’ talent – it is at once lyrical, sonically logical and completely surprising. There is a strictness too, strongly evoking the poetry of Geoffrey Hill, as well as a playfulness more reminiscent of Paul Muldoon at his riddling best.’ —Tom Chivers











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