Described by Chiron Review as 'the finest love poet of his generation', Parks was born in Mexborough, South Yorkshire. The son of a miner, Parks grew up during the declining years of the industry - something which was to have a profound effect on his later work. His first collection of poems, Gargoyles in Winter was published in 1986, the same year in which he received a Yorkshire Arts Award. From 1986 to 1988 he was writer-in-residence at North Riding College, Scarborough. He was made a Hawthornden Fellow in 1991 and was awarded a Travelling Fellowship to the USA in 1994, spending most of his year in New England. He did research into Chartist poetry in Oxford and was one of the Poetry Society New Poets in 1996. He is the editor of Versions of the North: Contemporary Yorkshire Poetry. He has taught creative writing at the universities of Sheffield, Oxford, Hull, and Leeds and was Writing Fellow at De Montfort University Leicester from 2012-14. He was writer in residence at Gladstone's Library in 2012 and currently runs the Read to Write Project in Doncaster.
His collections include A Climb Through Altered Landscapes (Blackwater, 1998), Shell Island (Waywiser, 2006), The Cage (Flux Gallery Press, 2008), Love Poems 1979-2009 (Flux Gallery Press, 2009) The Landing Stage (Lapwing, Belfast, 2010). The Exile's House, (Waterloo, 2012) and "Citizens" (Smokestack 2017). His poems have appeared in Poetry Review, The Times Literary Supplement, The Observer, The Liberal, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Independent on Sunday, Poetry (Chicago), London Magazine, The Chiron Review, The Rialto, Stand, Acumen, Poetry Greece, Modern Poetry in Translation and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3. His pamphlet, A Paston Letter was published by Rack Press. A selection of his poems appears in Old City: New Rumours edited by Carol Rumens and Ian Gregson. His versions of the modern Greek poet Constantine Cavafy - "The Cavafy Variations" (Rack Press) was published in 2013 and was a Poetry Book Society Choice. ″If Possible: Cavafy Poems" was published by from Calder Valley Poetry in 2018 and was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award.
'I never started out to be a love poet' Parks states in the preface to his Love Poems 1979-2009 - 'there's never been a point where I've set myself an agenda or a strategy. The love poems have just happened, appearing out of the blue and prompted by circumstances. They called and I responded'.
Opinions of his Work
"Surely one of the finest poets writing in these islands." Ian Pople "Manchester Review"
"Reading a poem by Ian Parks is like hearing your name spoken in the din of a public place - you hear it regardless of the background noise." Peter Dale.
"Ian Parks has an instantly recognisable voice: spare, lyrical, memorable and intense. Whatever subject he addresses - historical, political, romantic - he transforms through the sheer force of his poetic identity." Donald Davie.
Reviewing Shell Island Ben Ramm (The Liberal Magazine) wrote: "Ian Parks is the rarest of contemporary poets - a skilled versifier, respectful of his craft, and buoyed up rather than weighed down by its tradition. These poems demonstrate a remarkable aural sensitivity and control. Parks is finely attuned to the landscape's variance, its measured pulse, its echo and persisting memory. Here are sagacious, elegiac verses, at once visceral and tender, local and possessive of an organic unity: this is an impressive collection from an important poet."
Reviewing The Landing Stage in Acumen William Bedford wrote: 'This could be Eliot, but it isn't... it could be Frost, but again it isn't. Parks has gone beyond his influences. Politics is a moral passion in The Landing Stage and love the theatre of our anguish. This fine poet is hinting at everything we need to know to make us human.'
- http://www.nightpublishing.com/id24.html, Night Publishing, Ian Parks, Retrieved February 4, 2011.
- Google Books, Ian Parks.
- Old City: New Rumours eds. Gregson and Rumens (Five Leaves Press, 2010)
- Love Poems 1979, (2009, Flux Gallery Press)
- back cover of Shell Island (Waywiser Press, 2006)
- Acumen 2010