Ian Burgham

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Ian Burgham, poet, was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1950. He is the son of Senior Pilot and Flight Commander, Fighter Component, 835 Squadron, Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, and C.O. of VC 921 Squadron RCNVR, Lt. Cmdr. Allen Russell Burgham, DSC,MiD,CD (RNZVR and RCNVR) and Barbara Jean Wallace. He has lived in Scotland, and currently resides in Canada. He spent his formative years in Kingston, Ontario and graduated in 1973 from Queen's University with a B.A.(Hons)in English Literature. While at Queen's he studied poetry and poetic theory with Professor George Whalley, poet and well-known Coleridge scholar. In 1973, Burgham moved to New Zealand where he taught at Wellington College. In 1975 he moved to Scotland. He attended Edinburgh University, taking an M. Litt. degree in Blake studies. His thesis, written under the supervision of Professor Michael Phillips, focussed on William Blake's theory of imagination and the origins of Blake's poetry and theories.


Burgham, an associate of Canada's The League of Canadian Poets, worked in Edinburgh with the publishing company Canongate Books as a book salesman and an editor. During his two years at Canongate, he assisted Stephanie Wolfe Murray and Charles Wyld in the development of their list of authors which included Iain Crichton Smith, Sorley MacLean, Andrew Greig, Lady Naomi Mitchison, Harry Horse, Robin Jenkins, Alasdair Gray and Alistair Reid.

In 1980 Burgham became Publishing Manager of Macdonald Publishers of Loanhead. He worked with the publisher and literary icon, Calum Macdonald. With Macdonald, Ian Burgham published the work of Robert Garioch, Iain Crichton Smith, Nigel Tranter, Alexander McCall Smith and others, and re-released novels from out-of-print authors such as Eric Linklater and John Buchan.

In 1982 Burgham returned to Canada to pursue a career in general list, business and medical publishing. He co-founded the publishing company Grosvenor House Press and later became a partner in an international healthcare communications, PR and promotion agency. In 2001 he began work as an adjunct assistant professor in the Centre for Studies in Primary Care at Queen's University at Kingston, Canada in development of contracts pertaining to research and medical education. He resigned that position in 2012. For a short time he helped to promote the Griffin Prize for Poetry to international markets. Up until 2012 he worked as a director of the Rowers' Pub Reading Series, one of Ontario's foremost literary venues for readings by recognized writers and poets. The Reading Series has been in operation since 2008 and now makes its home at the Victory Cafe in Toronto.

Burgham has published four poetry collections; "A Confession of Birds", "The Stone Skippers" (Tightrope Books),"The Grammar of Distance"(Tightrope Books), and "The Unquiet" (Quattro Books). His poems continue to appear in literary journals and anthologies. Journals in which his work has appeared include; the "Literary Review of Canada",[1] "Queen's Quarterly",[2] "Precipice",[3] dANDdelion, "Harpweaver", "Prairie Fire", "Jones Avenue", "Contemporary Verse2" (CV2), "The New Quarterly", "Ascent Aspirations", the Dalhousie Review, Northern Poetry Review, the Toronto Quarterly and others.

In 2012 he moved to Quattro Books of Toronto. His first collection under the Quattro Books imprint, FourPoints Editions "The Unquiet" was edited by A.F. Moritz and Allan Briesmaster and was published in November of 2012.

In the summer of 2012 he read with Scottish poet Douglas DunnOBE, at the Edinburgh Festival and with Todd Swift. A.F Moritz, and Catherine Graham at Canada House in London, England. He continues to collaborate with a number of artists and is currently working with renowned abstract expressionist painter, Uno Hoffmann, San Francisco-based jewellery designer, Jeanine Payer and poet, Catherine Graham.

Two new collections, "Whereabouts and Elswhere: Letters to an Artist" and "Ian Burgham: New and Selected Poems" are forthcoming in 2014.


In 2004 he won the Queen's University Well-versed Poetry Award. In that same year, with the support of two principals of MacLean Dubois, Charles MacLean and Alexander McCall Smith, a chapbook, "A Confession of Birds", was published in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2007, Burgham's first full collection, "The Stone Skippers", (with an introduction by Australian poet Roland Leach) was published in the UK by MacLean Dubois, in Australia and New Zealand by SunLine Press and in Canada by Tightrope Books. These collections were followed by "The Grammar of Distance" in 2010 and "The Unquiet" in 2012. "The Stone Skippers" was nominated for the ReLit Award for the best book of poetry published in Canada in 2007. A review written by Christina Decarie appeared in the autumn edition (No. 159, 2009) of The Antigonish Review describing “The Stone Skippers”:

“This (collection of poems) is hard work, but it is worth it. For always the opening poem, “The Stone Skippers” is with us. Waking up panicked and rushed with no memory and only a sense of time slipping quickly through our fingers is an easy state to fall into, but it is a miserable one. Facing loss and the spaces it leaves us is painful, dreadful, and has its potential for despair. But it also comes with opportunities, connections and surprises. And this emptiness, in its own way, is full, and the loneliness complete. This collection is a coming to terms with loss, and it leaves us with comfort, not fear.“It is a wonderful terrible collection.”'''''

A review, written by poet Kevin Gillam, appeared in Five Bells, Journal of the Poets Union of Australia:

“‘The Stone Skippers’ by Ian Burgham is a beautifully published hard-back, generously spaced poems on high quality paper. And the work itself in every way continues this attention to detail, employing word and silence in equal measure. Here is a writer capable of great subtlety, fusing the turning point moment of short story, depth and length of novel, ‘in-breath’ of exalted verse. A small ‘I’ captures nature, philosophy, the quiet moment, the fleeting thought, then magnifies and shapes into word. Many poems possess the intimacy of listening in on someone talking to themselves. Use of form, poetic device, economy and choice of language, blurring of fancy and fiction – all are employed with intelligence and readerly insight.”

And again

“‘The Stone Skippers’ is a powerful, evocative, ‘real’ reading experience, quotes and de-construction somehow not doing it justice. Burgham demonstrates the dancing quality and length of well crafted poetry, like the skipping stone, well chosen and flung at the precise moment. The poems are to be savoured, lingered over, allowed to resonate and be remembered.” ''

A second critically acclaimed collection of poems, "The Grammar of Distance", edited by poet Catherine Graham, with a Foreword by Jeanette Lynes, was published in 2010 by Tightrope Books, Canada and MacLean Dubois, Scotland.


A Confession of Birds, Chapbook, MacLean Dubois, 2003/4

"The Stone Skippers" publisher, Tightrope Books 2007 isbn=978-0-97386-45-8-8

The Grammar of Distance, Tightrope Books 2010 isbn=978-1-926639-09-3

" The Unquiet" Fourpoints Editions, Quattro Books,2012 isbn=978-1-927443-24-8


  1. ^ Literary Review of Canada, September 2006, http://reviewcanada.ca/magazine/2006/09/
  2. ^ Queens Quarterly, Vol 113, pg 473
  3. ^ PRECIPCe, vol 14 (2006), vol 12 (2004)