Simon Rae is a poet, playwright, biographer and broadcaster. After postgraduate work at Oxford, he turned freelance in 1985, writing for a number of publications, including the Times Literary Supplement and New Statesman. His radio experience began with the African department of the BBC World Service, and he later wrote and presented programmes for both Radio 3 and Radio 4, including the Radio 4 series Poetry Please! with which he was associated for five years.
From 1988 to 1998 he wrote a regular topical poem for the Guardian, resulting in two published collections, Soft Targets with cartoons by Willie Rushton (1991), and Rapid Response (1997). His other poetry titles include Listening to the Lake: Poems & Drawings from Garsington and Great Tew, with Sue Cave (1993), The Face of War, cartoons by Ronald Searle (1999), Empires, illustrated by Matthew Ludgate (2000) and a selection of poems on cricket entitled Caught on Paper (2002). He won the National Poetry Competition in 1999, after being a runner-up twice.
He has compiled a number of anthologies, including The Faber Book of Drink, Drinkers and Drinking (1991), The Faber Book of Murder (1994), The Faber Book of Christmas (1996) and News That Stays News: The 20th Century in Poems (Faber, 1999). In 1998, he published W. G. Grace: A Life, which was joint-winner of the Cricket Society’s Literary Award, and in 2001, It’s Not Cricket: Skulduggery, Sharp Practice and Downright Cheating in the Noble Game, which was short-listed for the same award. In 1999-2000 he was poet in residence at Warwick County Cricket Club/mac (Midlands Arts Centre, Edgbaston).
His work for performance includes the musical Requiem, with Sue Casson, (Edinburgh & London, 1996), and stage plays: A Quiet Night In, a black comedy set on millennium eve (Bristol Old Vic Basement & Finborough Arms, 1999), and Grass, a contemporary view of the poet John Clare, first performed at the Etcetera Theatre in 2001. He has also written the libretto for Michael Stimpson’s The Angry Garden which was performed by the English Concert Singers .