Roger Garfitt is a poet and writer with a particular interest in collaborating with artists and musicians. He performs poetry and jazz with the John Williams Septet and jazz composer Nikki Iles. His interest in jazz is one of the threads that runs through his memoir The Horseman’s Word (Jonathan Cape, 2011), which was shortlisted for the Pen/Ackerley prize. He comes from a Norfolk family and his rural background is another strong thread in the memoir.
Since 1986 he has lived in the Shropshire Hills and his sequence, Border Songs, is engraved on glass screens in the County Archive in Shrewsbury. The performing version, with Sue Harris on the hammered dulcimer, was first heard on BBC Radio 3 and has drawn rapt attention from audiences all across the country, including the Troubadour in Earl’s Court and the Drama Studio at the University of East Anglia, where Roger was RLF Fellow in 2001. Border Songs and In All My Holy Mountain, a celebration of Mary Webb written for jazz settings by Nikki Iles, are the concluding sequences in his Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2000).
Roger Garfitt made his reputation as poetry critic of the London Magazine and went on to review for the TLS and London Review of Books, a discipline that was good preparation for working with students on their essays as RLF Fellow at Swansea University. More recently, he has contributed to both editions of The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry (1993 and 2013). He is now working on his next collection for Carcanet.