James Sutherland-Smith
James Sutherland-Smith News Original Poetry Translation & Criticism About James Sutherland-Smith Weblog Connect!

About James Sutherland-Smith

Picture of James Sutherland-Smith JAMES SUTHERLAND-SMITH
POET, TRANSLATOR, CRITIC

I am a poet and the best thing I do is to write poems. My life has been shaped by this continuous act of self-knowledge or self-delusion. Decisions about earning my living, where I live and, when I was younger, whom I took to bed have always the fatal sentence, "I am a poet" murmuring in the background; an angelic chiming, a serpent's hiss, a madman's mutter, a statement of destiny or Sam's stubborn refusal to pick up his musket. I would prefer it to be the last of these. For one thing I detest authority when it lays claim to power, truth and obedience by virtue of being merely authority. This does not mean that I have set my face against canons of poems and poets, but I feel that contemporary poetry lacks critical principles and that there is frequent recourse to argumentum ad verecundiam in terms of temporary reputation and the venerability of certain academic literary critics, who have ceased to read poems with proper attention.

Being a poet may have coincided with an unsettled childhood and adolescence. I was brought up mostly abroad until my parents sent me to prep school at the age of nine. Almost by accident I took the 11-plus rather than Common Entrance. This saved me from the consequences of my father's extreme fecklessness as my secondary education was at a state grammar school. It would be a half-truth to say that the deprivation he caused has made me more sympathetic to other people, more alert to matters of justice. Perhaps if he had made anything of the opportunities he was given I might have led another life, but I think that Peter Porter has written the poem best describing the illusory nature of might-have-been lives. What I can say is that my father's only permanent gift was a wound or rather a psychological vacancy, after disappearing in vaudeville fashion. He vanished owing debts to everybody, debts which eventually included the knowledge of the manner, whereabouts and time of his death. It is difficult for a man to believe in death until his father dies.

For a time I thought I might be a chip off the old block. At Leeds University I was encouraged to write poetry although I read Political Studies. I refused the suggestion that I might pursue an academic career and worked firstly with homeless people in London and then, after falling in love, I spent a disastrous year as an articled clerk with a firm of accountants and lost my first love. This confirmed in me the desire to place poetry first and so therafter earning a living has been secondary to this ambition. I qualified as a teacher and then moved into language teaching. The 1970's otherwise passed in a pleasurable blur of what was available in that decade besides writing, love affairs, dabbling in the occult and frequent changes in residence.

In 1980 I left Britain, for good as it turned out, partly impelled by an income tax debt, but mostly because I wished to travel. I worked in Libya, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. On leave among other places I travelled to Egypt, India, the Caribbean, the USA and Central America, In 1988 sensing the gradual professionalisation of my particular genre of teaching I took a Master's degree in TEFL and in the autumn of 1989 took a lector's job with through the British Council in the then Czechoslovakia. I count myself lucky. In the Arab world I had made strenuous efforts to engage with Islamic culture, but failed. I arrived in the Slovak part of Czechoslovakia six weeks before the Velvet Revolution and found myself playing a small part in the centre of events. Until that time I had never lived anywhere for longer than six years. I am still resident in Slovakia and have gained a strong measure of personal stability from my Slovak wife, Viera, and daughter, Kate.
Since 2002 I have worked in Serbia and advise the both the Serbian Armed Forces and Montenegrin Armed Forces on teaching and learning English. The work has been surprisingly satisfying.

No Text

CURRICULUM VITAE

JAMES SUTHERLAND-SMITH

Born 1948 Aberdeen, Great Britain.
Married to Viera Schlosserová with one daughter, Katarína











EDUCATION

1988 - 1989 University of East Anglia - School of Modern European History and Foreign Languages. Gained M.A. in Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

1973 - 1974 Matlock College of Higher Education - Nottingham University. Gained Postgraduate Certificate of Education to teach English and History.

1968 - 1971 Leeds University - School of Economics and Social Sciences. Gained B.A. Honours (Class 2 Division 1) in Political Studies

EMPLOYMENT

2002 to present Peacekeeping English Project Manager, Serbia and Montenegro to the Serbian and Montenegrin Armed Forces (SMAF)

1989 - 2002 British Council English Language University lecturer, Teacher Trainer and Project Consultant, East Slovakia

1986 - 1988 Head of English Language Teaching Unit in the Qatar Public Telecommunications Corporation, Doha Qatar

1982 - 1986 Deputy Head of Education in the National Guard Training Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for Cable and Wireless PLC (SANGCOM Project)

1980 - 1982 Instructor in English Language for National Oil Refining Corporation, Azzawiya, Libya (SPLAJ)

1976 - 1980 Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in England and Saudi Arabia

1974 - 1976 Teacher at Priory Road Church of England Middle School, Wimbledon, London

1972 - 1973 Articled Clerk in accountancy, WH Barnes and Co. (now Barnes Roffe) London.

1971 - 1972 Voluntary Social Worker, Simon Community, London

MEMBERSHIP OF SOCIETIES AND ORGANISATIONS

Royal Society of Literature
Society of Authors
Association of Translators

PUBLICATIONS

BOOKS AND PAMPHLETS
Four Poetry and Audience Poets P&A, Leeds 1971
A Poetry Quintet Gollancz, London 1976
The Death of Orpheus Words Etc., London 1976
Trapped Water Earthgrip, London 1977
Death of a Vixen Many Press, London 1978
A Singer from Sabiya Many Press, London 1979
Naming of the Arrow Salamander Imprint, London 1981
The Country of Rumour Many Press, London 1985
At the Skin Resort Arc Publications, Todmorden 1999
In the Country of Birds Carcanet, Manchester 2003
Popeye in Belgrade Carcanet, Manchester 2008

TRANSLATIONS (with Viera Sutherland-Smith except where stated)
Not Waiting for Miracles Modrý Peter, Levoca 1993
with Štefánia Allen and V S-S)
Slovensky balady Pavian Records, Bratislava 1995
(with Zuzanna Homolová)
Swallowing a Hair
Poems by Ján Ondruš Studna Bratislava 1998
(with Martin Solotruk)
An Album of Slovak Writers Bratislava 2000
100 Years of Slovak Literature Bratislava/Slovenia 2000
Cranberries in Ice:
Selected Poems of Ivan Laučík Modrý Peter Canada 2001
The Melancholy Hunter:
Selected Poems of Ján Buzassy Modrý Peter. Canada 2001
Scent of the Unseen
Selected Poems of Mila Haugová Arc Publications Todmorden 2002
An Album of Slovak Writers II Bratislava 2002
An Album of Slovak Writers III Bratislava 2004
And that's the Truth:
Selected Poems of Milan Rúfus Carducci-Bolchazy, USA 2005

ANTHOLOGIES
Universities Poetry 9 Exeter 1970
21 Years of Poetry and Audience Leeds 1977
A Thursday Evening Anthology Salamander Imprint London 1978
Perspectives in Landscape London 1978
New Poetry 5 London 1979
New Poetry 8 London 1982
New Poetry 9 London 1983
Klaonica Bloodaxe, Newcastle 1993
Riding Pillion Huddersfield 1994
The Bridport Prize Bridport 1996
Exeter Poetry Prize Exeter 1996
Exeter Poetry Prize Exeter 1997
The Bridport Prize Bridport 1998
The New Exeter Book of Riddles, Enitharmon London 1999
New Poetries II Carcanet, Manchester 2002
March Hare Fine Madness, Seattle USA 2002
Light Unlocked Enitharmon, London 2006

AWARDS AND PRIZES

Britain - EC Gregory Award (for poets under 30) 1978, Cheltenham International
Poetry Festival Competition 1982 (2nd), with TLS 1986 (3rd), 1988 (Special Mention), National Poetry Competition of Great Britain 1982 3rd, 1983 5th, 1986 5th, 1987 4th, 1989 5th. City of Cardiff International Festival Poetry Competition 1992 2nd. 2001 4th
Prizes also in York Poetry Competition 1987 and Poetry Business Competition 1994, Runner-up, Stand Poetry competition 1996 , runner-up Bridport Festival Competition, 1996, 2nd place 1998 and Highly Commended, Exeter Competition 1996, 3rd place 1997
Peterloo Poetry Competition 2002 Winner
America - Phillips Award, Stone Country Magazine 1984,
San Jose Studies Poetry Award 1984, 1987, 1991
Hviezdoslav Prize for Translation 2003

Powered by WebGuild Solo
This website ©2005-2017 James Sutherland-Smith