Farley, Paul 1965–

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Farley, Paul 1965–

(Paul James Farley)


Born June 5, 1965, in Liverpool, England; son of James Matthew and Thelma Irene Farley; married Carole Freda Romaya, 2006. Education: Chelsea School of Art, B.A., 1988. Hobbies and other interests: Painting.


Office—Department of English and Creative Writing, Bowland College, Lancaster University, Bailrigg, Lancaster LA1 4YT, England. Agent—Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN, England. E-mail—[email protected]


Poet. Lancaster University, Lancaster, England, lecturer in creative writing, 2002—. Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere, England, poet-in-residence, 2000-02; Hope University College, Liverpool, England, Royal Literary Fund fellow, 2000-02. BBC, writer and broadcaster.


Observer Arvon International Award, 1996, for "Laws of Gravity"; Geoffrey Dearmer Award, 1997; Forward Prize and Somerset Maugham Award, both 1998, both for The Boy from the Chemist Is Here to See You; Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, 1999; Arts Council Writer's Award, 2000; Whitbread Award, 2002, for The Ice Age; Forward Poetry Prize, 2005, for "Liverpool Disappears for a Billionth of a Second."



The Boy from the Chemist Is Here to See You, Picador Press (London, England), 1998.

The Ice Age, Picador Press (London, England), 2002.

Tramp in Flames, Picador (London, England), 2006.

Distant Voices, Still Lives, British Film Instuitue (London, England), 2006.

(Editor) John Clare: Poems, Faber and Faber (London, England), 2007.


Also author of "Liverpool Disappears for a Billionth of a Second." Contributor to periodicals, including Independent, London Review of Books, Observer, Sunday Times, and Times Literary Supplement.


Paul Farley is a respected English poet who studied painting during the mid-1980s, but by the mid-1990s turned to writing poetry. His literary debut was auspicious. In 1996, he won the Observer Avron award for "Laws of Gravity," a poem about his father, a high-rise window washer who had died ten years earlier. This poem and others were collected in The Boy from the Chemist Is Here to See You, published in 1998. This debut volume includes works recalling his youth in Liverpool and speculating on such subjects as ghostly activity in an abandoned warehouse. The Boy from the Chemist Is Here to See You was praised for its urban imagery and carefully rendered detail and, according to Sean O'Brien in the Times Literary Supplement, is distinguished by a filmic quality which O'Brien called "the selective, transfiguring light of the cinema."

Following the favorable reception afforded The Boy from the Chemist Is Here to See You, Farley was named writer-in-residence at Dove Cottage, the home of nineteenth-century poet William Wordsworth, in Gras- mere. Farley later accepted a teaching position at Lancaster University. In 2002, Farley's second collection, The Ice Age, was issued and won the coveted Whitbread Award for poetry. Poems in this collection examine subjects as diverse as an imagined meeting with his teenaged self, deteriorating memory, and a catalog of everyday kitchen objects, including a draining board, spice rack, table mat, and knives. The Ice Age won critical approval for the subtlety with which Farley transforms the mundane into the meaningful.

Farley followed up The Ice Age with the 2006 book of poetry Tramp in Flames. The detailed poems often take place in Farley's hometown of Liverpool, inviting the readers to almost take part in the poems themselves. Poems included in this volume are "Brutalist," "Filler," "Civic," and "Requiem for a Friend," which deals with the poet's late friend and teacher Michael Donaghy. Some reviewers found that Farley's latest work tends to pigeonhole his readers into one category; the book takes on a "narrow assumption of common ground," wrote Tower Poetry Web site contributor Jeremy Noel-Tod. But overall, critics responded positively to Tramp in Flames. Farley once again has published a compelling collection of poems, "combining laconic wit and passionate detail," noted Sean O'Brien in a review for the Sunday Times.



Guardian, November 27, 1998, Robert Potts, review of The Boy from the Chemist Is Here to See You, p. 44.

Independent on Sunday (London, England), February 18, 2001, Ruth Padel, review of "Keith Chegwin As Fleance," p. 54.

M2 Best Books, January 10, 2003, "Married Couple Compete for Overall Whitbread Prize."

Scotland on Sunday (Edinburgh, Scotland), June 23, 2002, William Herbert, review of The Ice Age, p. 4.

Sight & Sound, March 2007, Nick James, review of Distant Voices, Still Lives, p. 96.

Sunday Times (London, England), August 11, 2002, Alan Brownjohn, "Attraction of Opposites: Poetry," p. 42; September 24, 2006, Sean O'Brien, review of Tramp in Flames, p. 53.

Time Out, December 12, 2006, Jason Wood, review of Distant Voices, Still Lives.

Times Literary Supplement, July 3, 1998, Sean O'Brien, "Notes from the Rooftops," p. 26; January 5, 2007, "In the Back," p. 24.


Contemporarywriters.com,http://www.contemporarywriters.com/ (November 8, 2007), biographical information about Paul Farley.

Lancaster University Dept. of English and Creative Writing,http://www.lancs.ac.uk/ (November 8, 2007), biographical information about Paul Farley.

Poetryarchive.org,http://www.poetryarchive.org/ (November 8, 2007), biographical information about Paul Farley.

Tower Poetry,http://www.towerpoetry.org.uk/ (November 27, 2007), Jeremy Noel-Tod, review of Tramp in Flames.