Martyn Crucefix

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Martyn Crucefix (born 1956 in Trowbridge, Wiltshire) is a British poet, translator and reviewer. Published predominantly by Enitharmon Press, his work ranges widely from vivid and tender lyrics to writing that pushes the boundaries of the extended narrative poem. His themes encompass questions of history and identity (particularly in the 1997 collection A Madder Ghost) and – influenced by his translations of Rainer Maria Rilke – more recent work focuses on the transformations of imagination and momentary epiphanies. His new translation of Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus was published by Enitharmon in the autumn of 2012. Most recent publication is The Time We Turned published by Shearsman Books in 2014.


Crucefix attended Trowbridge Boys High School, then spent a year studying Medicine at Guys Hospital Medical School, before switching to take a first class degree in English Literature at Lancaster University. He completed a D.Phil. at Worcester College, Oxford, writing on the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Enlightenment and Romantic theories of language. He currently teaches in North London and is married to Louise Tulip. They have two children Tom and Anna.


Crucefix has won numerous prizes including an Eric Gregory Award[1] and a Hawthornden Fellowship. He has published 6 original collections: Beneath Tremendous Rain (Enitharmon, 1990);[2] At the Mountjoy Hotel (Enitharmon, 1993);[3] On Whistler Mountain (Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994); A Madder Ghost (Enitharmon, 1997);[4] An English Nazareth (Enitharmon, 2004);[5] Hurt (Enitharmon, 2010).[6] His translation of Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies (Enitharmon, 2006)[7] was shortlisted for the 2007 Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation and hailed as "unlikely to be bettered for very many years" (Magma)[8] and by the Popescu judges as "a milestone of translation and a landmark in European poetry".[9]

An early selection of Crucefix's work secured an Eric Gregory Award in 1984 and appeared in The Gregory Poems: The Best of the Young British Poets 1983–84, edited and chosen by John Fuller and Howard Sergeant.[10] His first book, Beneath Tremendous Rain (Enitharmon, 1990) was published two years after he had been featured by Peter Forbes in a ‘New British Poets’ edition of Poetry Review. This collection contains his elegy for his friend, the poet and food writer, Jeremy Round, as well as the four part poem 'Water Music' and an extended meditation on language, love and history titled 'Rosetta'. For Herbert Lomas the book showed "Great intelligence and subtlety . . . clearly an outstanding talent from whom great things can be expected".[11] Anne Stevenson wrote: "Poetry these days, often feels obliged to place conscience over art and make language work for precision, not complexity. In Martyn Crucefix's first collection, something else happens . . . daring to break with secular convention, Crucefix will become a real artist".[12]

During a Hawthornden Fellowship in 1990, Crucefix completed the long poem, ‘At The Mountjoy Hotel’, which went on to win second prize in the Arvon Poetry Competition 1991 (the poem was approvingly judged “controversial” by Selima Hill, one of the selection panel that also included Andrew Motion) and was published as a short-run pamphlet by Enitharmon in 1993.[3] It was also included in Crucefix's second collection, On Whistler Mountain (Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994), opening the book which also contained a second long narrative poem, 'On Whistler Mountain'. This second piece carries the dates New Year 1991 – New Year 1993 and splices putative personal events with material from the First Gulf War, in particular the 'turkey-shoot' of the US air attack on Iraqi forces on the highway north of Al Jahra. Tony Harrison's poem 'A Cold Coming' (1991) refers to the same incident. Poetry Review thought the book proved Crucefix "one of the most mature voices of the 1990s"[13] and it was praised by Tim Liardet: "Crucefix is at his best, bringing physical truths faithfully into an intense focus whilst remaining alive to their more outlandish implications, their capacity for dream-making . . . . tendering poems of love and desire with great delicacy of gesture and movement . . . blending an earthy sensuality with fine cerebral observation".[14] Alan Brownjohn, writing in The Sunday Times wrote of it as a "substantial and rewarding collection . . . highly wrought, ambitious, thoughtful".[15]

A third collection, A Madder Ghost (Enitharmon, 1997), drew on material unearthed in genealogical research ten years earlier. This had revealed that Crucefix's ancestors to be of Huguenot origins, fleeing France in the 1780s to settle in Spitalfields, London, to continue the family trade of clock-making. The book's tripartite structure opens and closes with sequences of fluent, lightly-punctuated lyrics in which he explores the anxieties and anticipated pleasures of fatherhood, from conception through the first year of his son's life. Genealogical material forms the middle section and looks to the past for identity, continuity and new ways of understanding the present in a tour de force of narrative interweaving that Vrona Groarke described as "a brave experiment . . . allowing two languages distanced by history and syntax, to swim together in single poems".[16] The book was praised by Anne Stevenson: "It is rare these days to find a book of poems that is so focused, so carefully shaped and so moving".[17] Kathryn Maris also praised it as "urgent, heartfelt, controlled and masterful"[18] and Gillian Allnutt thought the poems timely in their engagement with "proactive fatherhood" in ways that were "tender, humorous and . . . profound".[19]

Poetry Collections[edit]

  • A Hatfield Mass (2014)
  • The Time We Turned (2014)
  • Hurt (2010, Enitharmon Press)
  • An English Nazareth (2004, Enitharmon Press)
  • A Madder Ghost (1997, Enitharmon Press)
  • On Whistler Mountain (1994)
  • At The Mountjoy Hotel (1993, Enitharmon Press)
  • Beneath Tremendous Rain (1990, Enitharmon Press)


  • Daodejing – a new version in English (2016, Enitharmon Press): translation
  • Rilke’s ‘Sonnets to Orpheus’(2012, Enitharmon Press): translation
  • Rilke’s ‘Duino Elegies’ (2006, Enitharmon Press): translation

Poems on the web[edit]

  • Audio Recording made at The South Bank Centre in 2012.[20]
  • Two poems from 'Essays in Island Logic' (from Hurt)[21]
  • Three poems from 'Essays in Island Logic' (from Hurt) with accompanying essay[22]
  • 'He considers what the young have to teach' (from Hurt)[23]
  • 'Water-lily' (from Hurt)[24]
  • 'While There is War' (with audio) (from Hurt)[25]
  • 'Growth of a poet's mind' (from Hurt)[26]
  • 'Invocation' (from Hurt)[27]
  • 'Ivy tunnel at Kenwood' (uncollected)[28]
  • 'Road' (uncollected)[29]
  • 'On foot' (uncollected)[30]
  • 'La Bastide-de-Bousignac' and 'Morning Song' (uncollected)[31]
  • 'Tortoise' (from An English Nazareth)[32]

Critical writing[edit]


  1. ^ "Eric Gregory Past Winners | Society of Authors – Protecting the rights and furthering the interests of authors". Society of Authors. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Beneath Tremendous Rain - Enitharmon Press". Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b "At the Mountjoy Hotel – Enitharmon Press". Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  4. ^ "A Madder Ghost". Enitharmon Editions. 29 November 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  5. ^ "An English Nazareth - Enitharmon Press". Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  6. ^ "Hurt - Enitharmon Press". Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Duino Elegies - Enitharmon Press". Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Exterminating Angels and the Singing God – Magma Poetry". Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  9. ^ "(Corneliu M Popescu Prize 2007)". The Poetry Society. 4 March 1977. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  10. ^ The Gregory Poems: The Best of the Young British Poets 1983–84 (eds. John Fuller Howard Sergeant, Salamander Press, 1985)
  11. ^ Herbert Lomas, Ambit
  12. ^ Anne Stevenson, Stand
  13. ^ John Greening, Poetry Review
  14. ^ Tim Liardet, Poetry Wales
  15. ^ The Sunday Times, 8 May 1994
  16. ^ Vrona Groarke, P N Review 119 (1998)
  17. ^ Anne Stevenson, blurb for A Madder Ghost
  18. ^ Kathryn Maris, Poetry London
  19. ^ Gillian Allnutt, Poetry Review
  20. ^ Video on YouTube
  21. ^ Tony Frazer (ed.). "Shearsman Editions 83 & 84; Summer 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  22. ^ a b "The Bow-Wow Shop 10 – Page 5 Sebastian Barker". Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  23. ^ Verse Daily. "About Hurt by Martyn Crucefix". Verse Daily. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  24. ^ "Martyn Crucefix Water-lily". Archived from the original on 2 June 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  25. ^ "Martyn Crucefix – Spring 2008 Feature". The Cortland Review. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  26. ^ "The Bow-Wow Shop 3 – Page 12 Martyn Crucefix". 29 December 2009. Archived from the original on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  27. ^ "Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre". 3 April 2011. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  28. ^ "London Grip New Poetry – Winter 2011". Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  29. ^ Swift, Todd (11 March 2011). "Eyewear: Featured Poet: Martyn Crucefix". Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  30. ^ "On foot – Martyn Crucefix". Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  31. ^ "Martyn Crucefix". Loch Raven Review. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  32. ^ "MARTYN CRUCEFIX Tortoise Drop-jawed and pink-tongued with what". 28 January 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  33. ^ "Martyn Crucefix Mulberry and Oleander". Archived from the original on 3 June 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  34. ^ "Carcanet Press – Review of Sinead Morrissey's 'Through the Square Window'-Martyn Crucefix, Poetry London Summer 2010 no. 66". Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  35. ^ "BBC Radio 3 – The Essay, John Milton, the Essayist, Episode 1". 8 December 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  36. ^ "The Bow-Wow Shop 5 – Page 28 Martyn Crucefix". 23 May 2010. Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  37. ^ Video on YouTube
  38. ^ "Tony Harrison Criticism – Martyn Crucefix (essay date 1997)". Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  39. ^ "Michael Donaghy and Anne-Marie Fyfe reviewed – Magma Poetry". Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  40. ^ "Reviews". Poetry Magazines. Retrieved 23 November 2012.

External links[edit]