John Agard

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John Agard
Born (1949 -06-21) 21 June 1949 (age 67)
British Guiana
Occupation playwright, poet and children's writer
Language English
Nationality Guyanesee
Ethnicity Afro-Guyanese[1]
Citizenship Jamaican
Education St Alban's Academy

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 poem Half Caste 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.

Agard now lives in Britain.

Anthologise annual competition for schools[edit]


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, 1987
  • 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.
  7. ^ "Carol Ann Duffy to judge Old Possum's prize". The Guardian, 14 July 2009. Retrieved on 15 February 2013.
  8. ^ "Poet John Agard is selected for Queen's poetry medal". BBC News (20 December 2012). Retrieved on 15 February 2013.

External links[edit]