Jack Mapanje is a poet, linguist and human rights activist. His published books of poetry include: Of Chameleons and Gods (Heinemann, 1981 & 1991), The Chattering Wagtails of Mikuyu Prison (Heinemann, 1993) and Skipping Without Ropes (Bloodaxe Books, 1998). He also co-edited Oral Poetry from Africa: an anthology, (Longmans, 1983), Summer Fires: New Poetry of Modern Africa, (Heinemann, 1983) and The African Writers’ Handbook (African Book Collective, 1999). He published, as editor, Gathering Seaweed, (Heinemann Educational Books, 2002). Seashells of Bridlington North Beach, which he regarded as his stab at ‘the British poem’, was broadcast by BBC Radio 4 by Julian May as part of National Poetry Day 2002.
Formerly head of Department of English, University of Malawi at Chancellor College, Mapanje was recipient of the 1988 Rotterdam Poetry International Award in The Netherlands. He was imprisoned for about three and half years by dictator Hastings Banda of Malawi, essentially for his radical poetry. Jack was the 2002 recipient of the African Literature Association (USA) Fonlon-Nichols Award for his contribution to African poetry and human rights, and Honourary Visiting Professorial Fellow in the School of English, University of Leeds, Poet in Residence at The Wordsworth Trust, Dove Cottage, Grasmere, Cumbria. He lives in the city of York, England, with his family.