John Agard

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John Agard
Born (1949 -06-21) 21 June 1949 (age 67)
Georgetown, British Guiana
Occupation Playwright, poet and children's writer
Language English
Nationality British
Ethnicity Afro-Guyanese[1]
Education St Alban's Academy
Period 20th century

John Agard (born 21 June 1949 in British Guiana) is an Afro-Guyanese playwright, poet and children's writer, now living in Britain. In 2012, he was selected for the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.[2]


Agard grew up in Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana). He loved to listen to cricket commentary on the radio and began making up his own, which led to a love of language.[3] He went on to study English, French and Latin at A-level, writing his first poetry when he was in sixth-form, and left school in 1967. He taught the languages he had studied and worked in a local library. He was also a sub-editor and feature writer for the Guyana Sunday Chronicle, publishing two books while he was still in Guyana.[3]

His father settled in London and Agard moved to Britain with his partner Grace Nichols in 1977, settling in Ironbridge, Shropshire.[4][5] He worked for the Commonwealth Institute and the BBC in London.

His awards included the 1997 Paul Hamlyn Award for Poetry,[6] the Cholmondeley Award in 2004 and the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2012.[2]

Agard was Poet-in-Residence at the National Maritime Museum in 2008. His poems Half Caste and Checking Out Me History has been featured in the AQA English GCSE anthology since 2002, meaning that many students (aged 14 – 16) have studied his work for their GCSE English qualification.

He lives in Lewes, East Sussex, with his partner, the Guyanese poet Grace Nichols.[4]


Literature by John Agard[edit]

  • Shoot Me With Flowers. Published in Georgetown, Guyana, 1974
  • Letters for Lettie, and Other Stories. Bodley Head, 1979
  • Dig Away Two-Hole Tim. Bodley Head, 1981
  • Man to Pan. Casa de las Américas (Cuba), 1982
  • I Din Do Nuttin, and Other Poems. Bodley Head, 1983
  • Limbo Dancer in Dark Glasses. Greenheart, 1983
  • Livingroom. Black Ink, 1983
  • Mangoes and Bullets: Selected and New Poems 1972–84. Pluto Press, 1985
  • Say It Again, Granny!. Bodley Head, 1986
  • Lend Me Your Wings. Hodder & Stoughton, 1998
  • Go Noah Go!. Hodder & Stoughton, 1990
  • Laughter is an Egg. Viking, 1990
  • The Calypso Alphabet. Collins, 1990
  • No Hickory, No Dickory, No Dock (with Grace Nichols). Viking, 1991
  • The Emperor's Dan-dan. Hodder & Stoughton, 1992
  • A Stone's Throw from Embankment: The South Bank Collection. Royal Festival Hall, 1993
  • The Great Snakeskin. Ginn, 1993
  • Grandfather's Old Bruk-a-Down Car. Bodley Head, 1994
  • Oriki and the Monster Who Hated Balloons. Longman, 1994
  • The Monster Who Loved Cameras. Longman, 1994
  • The Monster Who Loved Telephones. Longman, 1994
  • The Monster Who Loved Toothbrushes. Longman, 1994
  • Eat a Poem, Wear a Poem. Heinemann Young Books, 1995
  • Get Back, Pimple!. Viking, 1996
  • We Animals Would Like a Word With You. Bodley Head, 1996
  • From the Devil's Pulpit. Bloodaxe, 1997 ISBN 1-85224-406-2
  • Brer Rabbit: The Great Tug-o-war. Bodley Head, 1998
  • Points of View with Professor Peekabo. Bodley Head, 2000
  • Weblines. Bloodaxe, 2000 ISBN 1-85224-480-1
  • Come Back to Me My Boomerang (with Lydia Monks). Orchard, 2001
  • Einstein, The Girl Who Hated Maths. Hodder Children's Books, 2002
  • Number Parade: Number Poems from 0–100 (with Jackie Kay, Grace Nichols, Nick Toczek and Mike Rosen). LDA, 2002
  • Hello H20. Hodder Children's Books, 2003
  • From Mouth to Mouth (with Grace Nichols; illustrated by Annabel Wright). Walker, 2004
  • Baby Poems. Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2005
  • Half-Caste. Hodder & Stoughton, 2005
  • Butter-Finger (with Bob Cattell, illustrated by Pam Smy) Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2006
  • We Brits. Bloodaxe, 2006 ISBN 978-1-85224-733-1
  • Wriggle Piggy Toes (with Jenny Bent). Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2006
  • Shine On, Butter-Finger (with Bob Cattell, illustrated by Pam Smy). Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2007
  • The Young Inferno (illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura). Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2008
  • Tiger Dead! Tiger Dead!: Stories from the Caribbean (with Grace Nichols, illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura). Collins Educational, 2008
  • Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems (with DVD). Bloodaxe, 2009 ISBN 978-1-85224-823-9
  • Clever Backbone. Bloodaxe, 2009 ISBN 978-1-85224-822-2
  • The Young Inferno (illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura). Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2009
  • Goldilocks on CCTV (illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura). Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2011
  • Travel Light Travel Dark. Bloodaxe, 2013 ISBN 978-1-85224-991-5

As editor[edit]

  • Life Doesn't Frighten Me At All. Heinemann, 1989
  • A Caribbean Dozen (co-edited with Grace Nichols). Walker Books, 1994
  • Poems in My Earphone. Longman, 1995
  • Why is the Sky?. Faber and Faber, 1996
  • A Child's Year of Stories and Poems (with Michael Rosen and Robert Frost). Viking Children's Books, 2000
  • Hello New!: New Poems for a New Century. Orchard, 2000
  • Under the Moon and Over the Sea (co-editor with Grace Nichols). Walker Books, 2002



  1. ^ Filipczak, D. (2010). "Memory and Myth: Postcolonial Religion in Contemporary Guyanese Fiction and Poetry. By Fiona Darroch". Literature and Theology. 24: 89. doi:10.1093/litthe/frq001. 
  2. ^ a b "Poet John Agard is selected for Queen's poetry medal", BBC News, 20 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b John Agard profile at Jubilee Books.
  4. ^ Dawes, Kwame Senu Neville (2001). Talk yuh talk: interviews with Anglophone Caribbean poets. University of Virginia Press. p. 244. ISBN 9780813919461. 
  5. ^ Anne Mette Finderup, Agnete Fog (2010). Worlds of English. p. 222. ISBN 9788761622426. 
  6. ^ Awards for Artists, Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Archived 21 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ a b "Carol Ann Duffy to judge Old Possum's prize". The Guardian, 14 July 2009. Retrieved on 15 February 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Poet John Agard is selected for Queen's poetry medal". BBC News (20 December 2012). Retrieved on 15 February 2013.

External links[edit]