James Simpson

About James Simpson

James Simpson is a Jerwood / Arvon award winner and was a prizewinner in the Thomas Hardy Society’s James Gibson Memorial Poetry Competition. His poetry has been published in Agenda, The London Magazine, Resurgence and The Hardy Society Journal and has been anthologised in Our Common Ground (Silverdart Publishing). Readings include appearances at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, the North Cornwall Book Festival and the Exeter Poetry Festival. He has collaborated with the artist and printmaker Carolyn Trant on the artist’s books, Hunting the Wren, The Rhyme of the Reddleman’s Daughter and Some Light Remains (all Parvenu Press); editions of these now reside in private and public collections nationally and internationally; including the British Library (Modern British Special Collections), Yale University Library, Louisiana State University (LSU Libraries) and the University of Georgia (Main Library). The Untenanted Room, was published as an Agenda Editions in 2011 with woodcuts by Carolyn Trant.

Jeremy Hooker has said of his work, ‘the poems are charged with feelings of awe or tenderness or anger. A poetic vision which combines subtle and sensitive apprehension with power. Reading you, I thought of Edward Thomas’s badger, ‘That most ancient Briton of English beasts’, and of elements in Ted Hughes… I thought of something in the land and in the language, in the Anglo-Saxon and earlier roots.’


  • Title: The Rhyme of the Reddleman’s Daughter
  • ISBN: 978-1916480667
  • Pages: 20
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The Rhyme of the Reddleman’s Daughter originated from a story the poet’s four-year-old daughter told him in her bath… “I’ll tell a story from my mouth …” her term for an oral story rather than one read from a book.

Book-ended with the idea of the Reddleman or Raddleman (a liminal figure who would travel the chalk hills marking sheep with a red dye at pairing time), the ballad is rooted in the landscape, flora and fauna of the South Downs.

The ballad form became the most fitting way of uniting form and content, and like Songs of Innocence and Experience it is written for both adults and children.

‘….blends the mysterious tone of dreamvision literature, with the familiarity of loved ballads, illuminated throughout by a magpie’s eye for glittering detail.’
LAVINIA SINGER

‘fearsome and poignant’
KEVIN CROSSLEY-HOLLAND