Recent Readings


Miscellaneous Employments

  • Permanent or long term: Associate Director of the Faber Academy; Patron of the CB1 Cambridge Poetry series; major Arts Council award for novel in progress (2008-2010).
  • 2009: European Writers’ Laureateship at the Villa Marguerite Yourcenar, France; Cambridgeshire Writer in Residence.
  • 2008: adjudication of the TS Eliot Prize (with Andrew Motion and Lavinia Greenlaw); adjudication of the Time Out/Spread the Word London Poetry Competition: two residencies in Kazakhstan with the British Council: Writer in Residence at Harrow School; six poem sequence for Lloyds of London: directorship of the inaugural and second Faber Academies in Paris and London.
  • 2007: Writer in Residence at Eton College: Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge: adjudication of the Helene du Coudray Prize for Fiction with Fay Weldon in association with Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford: poem and recording for the Barbican’s Seduction show with Carol Ann Duffy.
  • 2006: adjudication of the Asham Prize for Fiction with Patricia Dunker and Antonia Byatt: fellowship at the Santa Maddalena Writers’ Foundation, Italy.
  • 2005: adjudication of the New Writing Prize for Fiction with Dame Gillian Beer: mentor to three winners of the New Writing Poetry and Fiction awards: introduction to a new edition of Poe for the Hesperus Press: lead reviews of Murakami, Ishiguro and Heaney for The Guardian: contributor to Lebanon, Lebanon (Saqi Books) along with Harold Pinter and Doris Lessing: participation in a Conversazione on the Short Story with Grey Gowrie and Helen Simpson at Drue Heinz’s Casa Ecco, Italy.
  • 2004-2005: involvement in a variety of events connected with the Next Generation poetry campaign: continuation of work at Sussex University, where I have been a Visiting Fellow since 2003 and (for two years) the Royal Literary Fund Fellow, overseeing a limited number of individual MA and PhD students throughout their periods of study, and giving not more than three annual seminars for the two Sussex MA Creative Writing programmes (A less official long-term teaching commitment has been to the Arvon Foundation; I have taught a one-week course at Arvon Lumb Bank or The Hurst every year from 2002-2009).
  • 2004: three-way panel event with AS Byatt and John Carey at the British Library to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Golding's Lord of the Flies.
  • 2003: five weeks in Mexico as Travelling Writer for the Cheltenham Festival’s Across Continents showpiece, giving lectures and workshops in both Mexico and the UK in addition to writing fiction for the festival, The Independent and BBC Radio 4: commission from the Wellcome Foundation and the British Museum to write about the museum’s Henry Wellcome exhibition - the resulting short story was published alongside work by AS Byatt, Harry Kunzru and Peter Blegvad: teaching with Maura Dooley at the Ty Newydd Writing Centre in Wales: commission from the outstanding British jeweller Wendy Ramshaw to write an introduction to her folkloric Room of Dreams exhibition in Edinburgh.
  • 2002: interviewed, along with Michael Foot and Grey Gowrie, for BBC1’s Omnibus television film on Byron: participation in the London Schools Mentorship programme: five weeks in Jamaica for the British Council.
  • 2001: four weeks as the British Council’s Writer in Residence at Palacki University in the Czech Republic: Chair for debate on the historical novel at the Hay Festival, an event which was replicated at the Clerkenwell Festival: adjudication of the Whitbread Prize for Poetry: adjudication of the Whitbread Prize for Book of the Year: editor for an anthology of short stories for John Moores University, Liverpool: adjudication of the John Llewellyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday Prize for Fiction.
  • 2000: Poet in Residence for the BBC, creating and administering a series of online workshops for the corporation.
  • 1999: commission from Royal Mail to write a poem to accompany their first set of stamps for the new millennium: Poet in Residence at London Zoo, conducting a six-month programme of creative writing workshops for the public, poetry installations for young people, and public performances by poets including Carol Ann Duffy.
  • 1995-1998: Presenter of Channel 4’s The English Programme, a 45-minute documentary on the life and works of Wordsworth: a British Council lecture tour of India: a seminar on the haiku in translation at Oxford Brookes University: adjudication of the Bridport Prize for Poetry: a number of London comprehensive school workshops: an Arvon Foundation course on the short story: a fiction weekend at Leicester University: a fiction masterclass week at the Hay Festival: a closed fiction MA course at Arvon: mentorship as part of the Brighton Festival Mentor Programme.


  • In 2008 I have read or spoken at Tate Britain, Lloyds of London, the Troubador Café, the Shakespeare & Co bookshop in Paris, the British Council in Kazakhstan, the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester, the Wellcome Institute (with Don Paterson) and Newnham College Cambridge.
  • In 2007 I appeared at the Royal Festival Hall (with Iain Sinclair), the Lyon literary festival (with Alaa El Aswaany and Rick Moody), the Toulouse literary festival (with the French actress Fanny Cottençon), the Cambridge literary festival, and at Liverpool University, Sussex University, Charterhouse School, Eton College, the Troubador Café, Arvon Lumb Bank and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.
  • In 2006 I took part in a debate on London and the Suburbs with Iain Sinclair at the Museum of London, and discussed historical fiction with Barry Unsworth at the Lichfield Literary Weekend.
  • In recent years I have also read at the Royal Society of Literature, the British Library, PEN International Writer’s Day, London City Hall, the South Bank Voice Box, the European Crossing Border festival in Amsterdam, the Jewish Museum of London, the Anglo-Mexican Institute in Mexico City, the Edinburgh, Brighton, Cheltenham, Kilkenny, Lichfield, Ilkley and Richmond festivals as well as the Book of the Year Reading at Hay; the Universities of London, Warwick, Leicester, Sussex, Liverpool, Kingston (Jamaica), Usti nad Labem (Czech Republic) and Aberystwyth, and at many schools, bookshops and libraries. In 2003 I chaired an evening of poetry for Victims of Torture at the Actors’ Church in Covent Garden, presenting and reading alongside Adrian Mitchell and Jenny Joseph. I have read and spoken on BBC radios 2, 3 and 4 and the World Service, as well as for BBC1, BBC2 and Channel 4 television.