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John can be heard talking about what makes him write poetry in this talk for the Royal Literary Fund:


Click on the book images below to read reviews.




  New Poetry Collections for 2016:




john greening heath poetry review and buy  

Heath (2016, Nine Arches)

Heath – published in June 2016 by Nine Arches ( – is a collaboration with the eminent poet Penelope Shuttle ( John and Penelope were brought up on opposite sides of what was once the most dangerous ten square miles in England, Hounslow Heath – now Heathrow Airport. In the introduction to this substantial work, John writes:


"I have written many times about my Hounslow childhood: those weird groans and howls that would rise at night from beyond the hawthorn hedge at the bottom of our garden, when engines were being tested; the nightflights coming uncomfortably near to our chimney as I lay in bed (the roof was later ripped off by the vortex from one that came too close). The rhythm of life near Heathrow meant that conversations and even lessons at school had to pause for the planes. I loved them, of course, and adored the airport, where I would play on the lifts and the fruit machines. I was even vaguely aware of the significance of Heston—where we used to go for the swings or a haircut—as the place where Mr Chamberlain returned from Munich waving his piece of paper. Penny and I had often reminisced about the area. But it was only on a visit to Falmouth in February 2014, where I had been reading from To the War Poets, with poems such as 'Heath Row' and 'Middlesex', that her own new preoccupation with London became clear. Indeed, her 2014 chapbook, In the Snowy Air, is something of a love song to the city. I think it may have been my suggestion, but anyway the subject came up after my reading: we should collaborate on something about the Heath... I went back to Cambridgeshire and started writing: the first three poems, which are as they now appear in the book (and as they were published in PN Review), and which carry at least some sense of the two of us setting out on an unknown journey, not without memories of Macbeth and Banquo making their own heathen way. That was it. And there really was a feeling that this was something new, untried, just out of reach: exactly the right conditions for satisfactory poetry. Soon Penny was responding. And very quickly we were picking up on each other's obsessions, even if we never quite abandoned our own preferred styles: mine a longer, denser line, Penny's shorter, freer, with her characteristic light touch. Before long there was collaboration at a deeper level, with Cornwall's 'As if' being answered by East Anglia's 'If as', for example, and the echoing of one poem by another meant that the sequence began to take shape as a book. By the end, we were even rewriting each other's verses and at least two of the poems here are co-written. It was an invigorating experience, although not unique: in 1988, Philip Gross and Sylvia Kantaris had produced something rich and strange in The Air-Mines of Mistila, for example, and that was certainly at the back of my mind, one of several literary milestones that reassured me we were not entirely lost, that we would emerge safely on the far side – as we have."


John and Penelope will be reading from the book on 8 July 2016 at the Ledbury Festival and on 23 July at the Southdowns Festival. There are further readings throughout the year and these will be announced on Facebook and Twitter.


Click here to learn about upcoming public readings.





john greening nebamuns tomb
Launch of Nebamun's Tomb
john greening nebamuns tomb

Nebamun's Tomb (2016)

The poems in this pamphlet were written after visiting the British Museum to see their newly revived Egyptian collection, in particular the paintings from the tomb of an accountant called Nebamun. These remarkable works of art, dating from around 1350 BC, were 'removed' and sold to the museum by the British consul-general in Egypt, Henry Salt (1780–1827), a keen and well-placed collector of antiquities. My own interest in Egypt began rather later, between 1979 and 1981, when my wife and I were volunteer teachers in Aswan, an experience which resulted in Westerners (Hippopotamus Press, 1982), my first collection.


Sally Evans, reviewing Nebamun's Tomb and the Rack Press pamphlets


‘Simply designed with modest runs of 150 copies, they are a good buy at £5 each and perhaps buyers will trust Rack Press enough to buy them all. Then they’ll find they have favourites. Mine (of these 4) is John Greening’s Nebamun’s Tomb. Perhaps this is hard on the others because John Greening is easily the most considerable and most published of these writers. He has (in the credits) the best publications list and awards list and the least extravagant claims from supporters.  Additionally his work here has a theme, which is somewhere we are definitely going in poetry.  His poems are highly re-readable. They don’t tell you enough, but get you interested in old Salt and the Egyptian relics in the British Museum. It’s a sequence of 11 shortish, vari-form and image-filled poems, linking London and Egypt. It is, imo, the best title and has the best subject matter of the four.’


Available from



To order please follow this link  



john greening Accompanied Voices

To order please follow this link

Accompanied Voices (2015)

Accompanied Voices (published by the world's leading music publishers) is a unique book: a highly readable anthology of some of the most memorable and accessible international writing about classical music, it is also a moving commentary by one set of practising artists on the work of another. There have been several anthologies of 'music poems', but never one which follows the story of western music through from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century. This is in effect a chronological guide to the major composers of the last four hundred years, written in the language which comes closest to music itself – poetry.


Major poets represented include Geoffrey Hill, Ted Hughes, Elizabeth Jennings, Michael Longley, Andrew Motion, Peter Porter, Siegfried Sassoon, Jo Shapcott, Anne Stevenson and Charles Tomlinson among a total of nearly a hundred writers. Available from Amazon and other bookshops.


Click the below images to view in larger size:

john greening Accompanied Voices
rear cover

john greening Accompanied Voices
Sunday Times review

john greening Accompanied Voices
BBC Music Magazine review













 Two new collections appeared in 2013 (see New Books section for details):




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Knot (2013, Worple Press)

The 2013 Worple chapbook, Knot is ‘a miniature masterpiece’ according to the War Poets authority, Harry Ricketts, writing in Warwick Review.  Based on the design of a seventeenth-century knot garden, this sequence makes consort music with the poets of Elizabethan England. Sonnets and verse letters are woven around a journal of life in a twenty-first century writers' retreat (Hawthornden Castle) and a prose allegory of Ben Jonson’s famous walk from London to Scotland to visit William Drummond. The collection concludes with a witty modern masque.


Knot is a miniature masterpiece’ (Warwick Review) - KNOT Review


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To the War Poets (2013, Oxford Poets/Carcanet)

To the War Poets was described in Stand as ‘beautifully put together, masterly in placing the addresses to writers past in a vibrant present... with a convincing imaginative scope and freshness’. The book begins with a powerful new sequence of verse letters to the First world War poets. This is followed by a long poem about the discovery of the Sutton Hoo ship burial weeks before the Second World War. In fact, the sounds of conflict are never far away, even as Yeats dances or Pepys writes his diary, whether it’s the Czech Philharmonic playing Dvořák in 1938 or Heathrow being shut down by security forces in 2006. A childhood of planes and trains and bicycles is haunted by gibbet and blitz and holocaust.  There are troubled echoes of Empire (Egypt and Zanzibar, personally significant places for the poet); and even amid the gentle landscapes of middle England there is a distant rumbling: the pacifist Waldo Williams trapped in war-time Huntingdonshire, Glenn Miller’s final concert in a Bedfordshire village.



  To order please follow this link      

List of earlier collections:

To read reviews of The Home Key or Omm Sety please click on book cover

or for information about earlier collections please click here

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Hunts: Poems 1979-2009 consists of highlights from John Greening’s earlier eleven collections, together with about sixty new or uncollected poems.  It includes many of the longer poems from earlier books, together with the complete ‘Hunts’ trilogy of eclogues, elegies and nocturnes written over the last quarter of a century.  It is available from Central Books, the publisher Greenwich Exchange, or from any on-line bookshop such as Amazon. Glyn Pursglove wrote in Acumen (May 2009) : ‘Since the end of the 1970s, John Greening has steadily established himself a significant presence in contemporary English poetry...Beyond the admirable craftsmanship that characterises almost all of his work, one of Greening’s great strengths is his historical imagination... Greening’s major sequences are splendid examples of the poetry of place, extended reflections upon the individual’s place in his community, upon place as the creator (and creation) of individuals, full of specifics, but never merely parochial... There is much here to enjoy and admire in the work of a serious (but never excessively solemn) poet, who cares about both ‘facts’ and ideas and makes his poetry out of the interpenetration of the two.’


Please follow this link to a review of Hunts Poems

  To order please follow this link      
  Earlier poetry collections, including Nightflights (New and Selected poems): please click here  
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ICELAND SPAR (2008, Shoestring Press)

John Greening writes: "ICELAND SPARfocuses entirely on Iceland rather in the way that my first collection was solely about Egypt.  The deserts of this book are those of the lava-plains, but also the emotional aridity of a teenage Second World War RAF recruit, stranded in Akureyri a long way from his girlfriend back in London, enduring the Blitz.  The recruit is my father, who spent much of the war as a wireless operator in Iceland; the girlfriend is my mother.  But many of these poems are a response to the landscape of Iceland during my first visit there in 2001, following a generous grant from the Society of Authors.  I tried to track down the site of my father’s wireless hut and rekindled an enthusiasm for Old Norse (which I studied at university) and the mythology of the Northmen. The book includes a version of one of the Edda, ‘Voluspa’ (published in Modern Poetry in Translation) a vision of the end of the world, which I finished just a few days before 9/11 and consequently found myself rereading with an entirely new and contemporary slant."

Click here to read an extended review of Iceland Spar (‘Double Vision’ by Alan Gould)  in the October 08 issue of Australian magazine, Quadrant: at

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The Home Key (2003, Shoestring Press)

John Greening’s tenth collection, The Home Key, includes the Bridport prize poem, a sequence commissioned by the Eden Project and a song cycle performed at the Wigmore Hall.

‘Musical, spatial and geographical in its is an eye that sees the incandescent wonder of the world’ (Acumen). ‘Rich and rewarding writing’ (Eddie Wainwright in Envoi).

 ‘A worthy Bridport winner’ (London Magazine).

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Omm Sety (2001, Shoestring Press, Limited Edition)

Omm Sety is a narrative poem, which tells the true story of Englishwoman Dorothy Eady, who believed that in a former life she had been the mistress of Pharaoh Sety 1.  This dramatic poem weaves the voices of Eady and Sety with memories of the poet's own years in Egypt during a period when Omm Sety was still living in the temple at Abydos.

  To order follow this link