Peter Reading (27 July 1946 – 17 November 2011) was an English poet and the author of 26 collections of poetry. He is known for his choice of ugly subject matter, and use of classical metres. The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry describes his verse as "strongly anti-romantic, disenchanted and usually satirical". Interviewed by Robert Potts, he described his work as a combination of "painstaking care" and "misanthropy".
Reading was educated at Alsop High School. After studying painting at Liverpool College of Art, he worked as a schoolteacher in Liverpool (1967–68) and at Liverpool College of Art, where he taught Art History (1968–70). He then worked for 22 years as a weighbridge operator at an animal feedmill in Shropshire, a job which left him free to think, until he was sacked for refusing to wear a uniform introduced by new owners of the business. His only break was a two-year residency at Sunderland Polytechnic (1981–83). After leaving Liverpool, he lived for 40 years in various parts of Shropshire, in later years in Little Stretton, near Ludlow.
The benevolence of America’s Lannan Foundation rescued him from poverty. He was the first writer to hold the one-year Lannan writing residency in Marfa, Texas (in 1999), and is the only British poet to have won the Lannan Award for Poetry twice, in 1990 and 2004, as well as the only poet to read an entire life’s work for the Lannan Foundation’s DVD archive – his filmed readings for Lannan (made in 2001 and 2010) of 26 poetry collections make up the only archive of its kind. His 1997 collection Work in Regress was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.
- Cholmondeley Award (1978)
- Dylan Thomas Award (1983), for Diplopic
- Whitbread Prize for Poetry (1986), for Stet
- Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, 1990 and 2004.
- Water and Waste (1970)
- For the Municipality's Elderly (1974)
- The Prison Cell & Barrel Mystery (1976)
- Nothing for Anyone (1977)
- Fiction (1979)
- Tom o'Bedlam's Beauties (1981)
- Diplopic (1983)
- 5x5x5x5x5 (1983)
- C (1984)
- Ukulele Music (1985)
- Going On (1985)
- Essential Reading (1986)
- Stet (1986)
- Final Demands (1988)
- Perduta Gente (1989)
- Shitheads (1989)
- Three in One (1991)
- Evagatory (1992)
- Last Poems (1994)
- Collected Poems Vol 1: 1970-1984 (1995)
- Eschatological (1996)
- Collected Poems Vol 2: 1985-1996 (1996)
- Chinoiserie (1997)
- Work in Regress (1997)
- Apopthegmatic (1999)
- Ob (1999)
- Repetitious (1999)
- Marfan (2000)
- [untitled] (2001)
- Faunal (2002)
- Civil (2002)
- Collected Poems Vol 3: 1997-2003 (2003)
- -273.15 (2005)
- Vendange Tardive (2010)
- "Obituary: Peter Reading". London: Daily Telegraph. 22 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-22.
- Keith Tuma, Anthology of Twentieth-Century British and Irish Poetry (2001), p. 725.
- Martin Seymour-Smith "Reading, Peter" in Ian Hamilton (ed.) The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994, p.443
- Robert Potts "An Interview with Peter Reading", Oxford Poetry, OP V.3 [Winter 1990 Archived 2010-03-12 at the Wayback Machine.