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Martyn Crucefix



Born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, U.K.

After a short period at Guys Hospital Medical School, he switched to read English at Lancaster University, where he studied with David Craig and worked with the novelist, the late Richard Burns.

He completed his doctoral thesis on the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley at Oxford in the early 1980's. He co-edited the anthology New Poetry from Oxford with W N Herbert and Keith Jebb. He also worked with Peter Forbes, Elizabeth Garrett, Tom Rawling, Helen Kidd and Anne Born at The Old Fire Station Workshops.

Moving to London in 1985, he ran writers' workshops for ILEA and WEA. He ran and attended workshops in North London with poets such as Jane Duran, Mimi Khalvati, Sue Hubbard, Vicki Feaver and Ruth Padel.

From 1989 to 1997, with Sue Hubbard, Mario Petrucci and Denis Timm, he co-ran Blue Nose Poetry, one of London's liveliest poetry venues, hosting readings, workshops and competitions.

He currently teaches in London, where he lives with his wife, Louise Tulip, and their two children, Thomas and Anna.

He is a founder member of the poetry performance group, ShadoWork, which has recently worked up and down the country pioneering new approaches to collaborative performing and writing.

He has been a member of The Poetry Society's General Council.


  • An English Nazareth (Enitharmon, 2004)
  • Beneath Tremendous Rain (Enitharmon, 1990)
  • At The Mountjoy Hotel (Enitharmon, 1993)
  • On Whistler Mountain (Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994)
  • A Madder Ghost (Enitharmon, 1997)


  • currently working on a new translation of Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies


  • The Gregory Poems: the best of the young British poets, eds. John Fuller and Howard Sergeant (The Salamander Press, 1985)
  • Voices in the Gallery, edited by Dannie and Joan Abse (Tate Gallery Publications, 1986)
  • Touchstones One, eds. Michael and Peter Benton (Hodder & Stoughton, 1987)
  • Touchstones Three, eds. Michael and Peter Benton (Hodder & Stoughton, 1988)
  • The Orange Dove of Fiji: Poems for the World Wide Fund for Nature, ed. Simon Rae (Hutchinson, 1989)
  • New Christian Poetry, ed. Alwyn Marriage (Collins, 1990)
  • Beneath the Wide, Wide Heaven, eds. Sara Dunn with Alan Scholefield (Virago, 1991).
  • Greek Gifts, eds. Duncan Curry and Janet Fisher (Smith/Doorstop, 1991)
  • Arvon International Poetry Competition Anthology, eds. Flory, Hill, Motion, Williams (Arvon Foundation, 1993)
  • The New Exeter Riddle Book, ed. Kevin Crossley Holland and Lawrence Sail (Enitharmon, 1999)
  • Field Days, eds. Angela King and Susan Clifford (Common Ground/Green Books, 1998)
  • The River's Voice, eds. Angela King and Susan Clifford (Common Ground/Green Books, 2000)
  • Radio Waves, ed. Sean Street (Enitharmon Press, 2004)

Magazines/Periodicals/Newspapers (Poetry, Features, Reviews) 

Poems and reviews by Martyn Crucefix have appeared in many magazines and journals including:

  • Acumen
  • Ambit
  • Bete Noire
  • Critical Quarterly
  • Illuminations
  • Leviathan Quarterly
  • Magma
  • New Poetry from Oxford
  • Outposts
  • Oxford Poetry
  • Poetry London
  • Poetry News
  • Poetry Review
  • Poetry Wales
  • Sheffield Thursday
  • Staple
  • Stand
  • The Independent
  • The Interpreter's House
  • The Literary Review
  • The London Magazine
  • The London Review of Books
  • The Observer
  • The Rialto
  • The Tabla Book of New Verse
  • The Times Educational Supplement
  • The Times Literary Supplement

He was one of eight poets featured in 1988 in a special edition of Poetry Review called 'New British Poets'.

His work appeared in the 1998 series of Poems on the Buses, sponsored by Friends of the Earth, Big Wide Words, London Transport Museum and Arriva.

Other Writing

'Wordsworth, Superstition and Shelley's Alastor', in Essays in Criticism, Vol. XXXIII, No 2, April 1983.

'Yan Tan Tethera', in Tony Harrison: Bloodaxe Critical Anthology, ed. Neil Astley (Bloodaxe, 1991).

'This World of Love: Two Letters' in Keats-Shelley Review, Number 8, 1993-4.

'The Drunken Porter Does Poetry: Metre and Voice in the Poems of Tony Harrison', in Tony Harrison: Loiner, ed. Sandie Byrne (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1997).

'Ten Steps to a Good Poetry Reading', in Poetry News, Winter 2001/2.


An English Nazareth (2004)

"Crucefix aspires to be the patron saint who can lift us into the clouds of the small near-magic-realist lyric ('Scoop'), a high-flying purveyor of majestic clarity ('On Night's Estate'), a tight-rope-walker forever balancing himself over the symbolic-sense divide ('So Far' and 'Clay Town') and in the best of these poems we rise with him and are then returned to earth by his many routes, squarely, impressively, on both feet". Acumen.

"The three most memorable poems are longer pieces, about strangers. One is a dramatic monologue in the persona but not the voice of a contemporary builder of the shrine at Walsingham ('the saw / still warm in the red-grained wood / the hammer's shout on the nail'). It subtly conveys the divinity of the lady whose vision instructs the builders (as in those connotations of hammer and nails), while making more earthy observations such as how she's never actually visited a humble home like the one they are building, or that they are praising God for the gift of paid work rather than for His Son. In another monologue, a tourist-attracting cheesemaker - in his own salty voice - imagines Cleopatras in his vat, and 'wilts' the boredom in his spectators' eyes by using his knife to 'slit / the curd's throat/ /to breezeblock shapes'. The third is a ballad about two lovers shot in divided Sarajevo, sung - astonishingly and effectively - by the ubiquitous water which features in their lives and deaths: 'I'm the vigour in grass/ that's crushed where [they] lie.// the little moisture/ that remains in their eyes.'" The North.

A Madder Ghost (1997) 

"It is rare these days to find a book of poems that is so focused, so carefully shaped and so moving".   Anne Stevenson.

"A substantial collection on big themes - birth, exile, illness, persecution and death.  The author's voice is both public and personal . . . the lyrics about the poet's relationship to his infant son remain with me for their delicacy"   Orbis.

"I hope very much the advent of proactive fatherhood will spawn more poetry as tender, humourous and, in places, profound as this"   Gillian Allnutt, Poetry Review.

"Crucefix uses a quotidian, work-a-day language that doesn't holler and doesn't hang about.  Its lack of rhetoric sits easily with the subject-matter, at once so ordinary and so remarkable . . . Just as the first and third sections of the book dare to be ordinary, the second undertakes a brave experiment in allowing two languages distanced by history and syntax, to swim together in single poems"   P N Review.

On Whistler Mountain (1994) 

"Richly various in its subject matter. The undoubted masterpiece is the title poem . . . He is the master of the small apocalypse.  Martyn Crucefix has firmly staked his claim to be one of the most mature voices of the nineties"   John Greening, Poetry Review

"A substantial and rewarding collection . . . highly wrought, ambitious, thoughtful - and very good"   Alan Brownjohn, The Sunday Times

"The three most powerful poems in this extremely inventive collection intertwine two lines of inquiry or play one sequence off against another . . . full of tension and vicious observations"   Bill Greenwell, New Statesman.

"He likes to create an energetic criss-crossing of moods and words belonging to different people at different times . . . There is real vitality here and some sharp often comic observation"   Derwent May, The Times

"A very promising volume . . . it contains an encouraging number of fine poems"   Vernon Scannell, The Sunday Telegraph.

At The Mountjoy Hotel (1993) 

"Here is a poem you will either love or hate. The craft is not at issue - it never falters. The form, the language, the tone, are straightforward, but spot on. We feel we are in the hands of an expert. But the subject matter? Does this man deserve a poem to himself? It is true most of us would not want to meet him, but curiously enough - and this is what makes this such a controversial poem - one does want to read about him. Readers will have to make up their own minds. It certainly made me sit up, which poetry, don't you think, should do?"   Selima Hill.

Beneath Tremendous Rain (1990) 

"Great intelligence and subtlety . . . clearly an outstanding talent from whom great things can be expected"   Herbert Lomas, Ambit

"Salvation and torment . . . the world of sensuality, bad moods, jealousies, grief, and 'the crumbling glint of waves' that offers 'the unbounded horizon' only in death, soaks this volume"   Adam Thorpe, The Observer

"A tremendously enjoyable book"   Julian May, Poetry Review

"Poetry these days, often feels obliged to place conscience over art and make language work for precision, not complexity. In Martyn Crucefix's first collection, something else happens . . . daring to break with secular convention, Crucefix will become a real artist". Anne Stevenson, Stand

"Martyn Crucefix has a distinctive voice. BTR has considerable range of form, subject and style and emotional pitch. Crucefix is at his best writing sparsely with cryptic detachment. The poet employs distinct personae to great effect. Richly enjoyable . . . He is strongest with people and their emotions, particularly when he writes about the interruption of lives by faceless cataclysm". TLS


  • Works regularly as a tutor for The Poetry School in London.
  • With ShadoWork has recently performed and taught collaborative writing and performance techniques in Derbyshire, Sussex, Hampshire, Essex and London.
  • Is a member of NAWE.
  • Has taught literature and creative writing at Roehampton Institute (University of Surrey) and Middlesex University.
  • Has given papers in Winchester at The Writers' Conferences.
  • Has acted as a competition judge for Kent & Sussex Poetry Society, the Suffolk poetry Society's Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition, The Blue Nose Poetry Competition, The Winchester Writers' Conference Competition and others.
  • Was commissioned by the Post Office to edit their poetry web-site for Valentines Day 2001.

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