James Kirkup, poet and translator, was born in South Shields on April 23, 1918. He died on May 10, 2009, aged 91
Most newspaper obituaries including the one in Times OnLine highlight his involvement in the Gay News blasphemy trial, and its sad that this is what he is most remembered for.
Some of us remember him more for his poetry and especially his contribution to the world of haiku and tanka.
I've had periodic correspondance with him since the 70s when he submitted poetry to me. THE GUITAR-PLAYER OF ZUIGANJI was first published in Headland #8.
I had previously published in a limited edition his "MANY-LINED POEM", one or two extant copies of which I have buried in a box somewhere. He was still sending me work from Andorra as recently as a couple of years ago.
The latest issue of The Tanka Journal #34 includes a tanka sequence THE WEDDING GROUP which begins
In one day's rare sunAs Patricia Prime writes in her review of his collection THE AUTHENTIC TOUCH (Bluechrome Publishing ISBN 1 904781 59 4)
they smile their assembled smiles
from the bright heaven
of otherworld garden's own
unplucked bouquet of summer.
Kirkup's poems are a privilege to experience, their generosity and musicality complementing and complicating the reader's own truths with each and every read. The poems strike a tone of light, deft whimsicality, but within the wit and whimsy, the wisdom and fine irony, is a ruthless commentary on the human condition.His last published book was Marsden Bay and his publishers Red Squirrel Press are inviting people to a celebration of his life from 10.00 am - 12.00 midday on Saturday 13th June at South Shields Central Library.
I won't be there but I will be remembering him.