McKendrick, James (Stewart) 1955-

views updated

McKENDRICK, James (Stewart) 1955-

(Jamie McKendrick)

PERSONAL: Born October 27, 1955, in Liverpool, England; married Xon de Ros, 1992. Education: Nottingham University, B.A., 1976; attended Oxford University, 1976-79.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Faber & Faber, 3 Queen St., London WC1N 3AU, England.

CAREER: University of Salerno, Salerno, Italy, lecturer, 1984-88; Wadham College, Oxford, Oxford, England, part-time instructor in Sarah Lawrence Program, 1991—. Hertford College, Oxford, Oxford, England, poet-in-residence, 1999—.

AWARDS, HONORS: Eric Gregory Award, 1983; Southern Arts Literature award, 1992, for The Kiosk on the Brink; Forward Poetry Prize, and Poetry Book Society Choice, both 1997, both for The Marble Fly.



The Sirocco Room, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1991.

The Kiosk on the Brink, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1993.

The Marble Fly, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1997.

Sky Nails: Poems 1979-1997, Faber & Faber (London, England), 2001.

Ink Stone, Faber & Faber (London, England), 2003.


(Editor) The Faber Book of Twentieth-Century ItalianPoems, Faber & Faber (London, England), 2004.

Also author of introduction to The Arvon International Poetry Competition, Arvon Foundation, 2004. Contributor to periodicals, including Manchester Guardian and Times Literary Supplement.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A translation of the poetry of Valerio Magrelli.

SIDELIGHTS: James McKendrick is an English poet and translator whose work, published under the name Jamie McKendrick, has received both popular success and critical plaudits. McKendrick's first collection, The Sirocco Room, was published when the author was in his thirties and gave evidence of a mature artist at work. To quote a contributor to Contemporary Poets, The Sirocco Room introduced some of the recurring themes that have informed McKendrick's more recent work: "an interest in science, history, language, and everyday life and an ironic sense of humor that undercuts what has appeared to some as a perhaps rather unhopeful feeling in the poems." In subsequent collections McKendrick has experimented with traditional forms such as the sonnet and terza rima in work that unfolds uniquely within those forms. Manchester Guardian critic Lavinia Greenlaw wrote of the author: "He has intellectual warmth and is light on his feet and able to see arguments as aspects rather than jousts."

McKendrick's first three books supply the selections in Sky Nails. The title refers to a worksite joke: the newest employee is sometimes sent to find "sky nails." The ability to turn the mundane into an occasion for art—and the sometimes precarious balance between clutching the cliff and falling from it—form the crux of McKendrick's poetic oeuvre. As Stephen Knight put it in the Times Literary Supplement, the author's poetry is balanced "between home and abroad, chaos and order, life and extinction, the air and the subterranean. This blithe recidivism is a wonderful paradox at the heart of McKendrick's work." The Contemporary Poets essayist similarly observed that McKendrick's effects provide "a tenuous sense of the possibility of discovering the good life while living on the brink of a volcano." In a New Statesman review of Sky Nails, Lavinia Greenlaw declared that McKendrick "writes like no one else" and that Sky Nails "brings out the patterns and properties of a poetry tantalized by design, and charts and impressive and strengthening body of work."

McKendrick has also translated the works of Italian poets. He edited The Faber Book of Twentieth-Century Italian Poems, which was released in America the same year as his fourth original poetry collection, Ink Stone.



Contemporary Poets, 7th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.


Guardian (London, England), February 15, 2003, Lavinia Greenlaw, "Zoom Lens," p. 25; October 9, 2004, Ian Thomson, "Grave Music," p. 25.

New Statesman, March 13, 2000, Lavinia Greenlaw, "Sky High," review of Sky Nails, p. 58.

Poetry, June-July, 2004, Brian Phillips, review of InkStone, p. 239.

Poetry Review, spring, 1994, Roger Garfitt, review of The Kiosk on the Brink.

Times Literary Supplement, October 27, 2000, Stephen Knight, "Walking a Tightrope," review of Sky Nails.*

About this article

McKendrick, James (Stewart) 1955-

Updated About content Print Article