About Kit Wright
Kit Wright (b. 1944) is the author of more than twenty-five books, for both adults and children, and the winner of awards including an Arts Council Writers’ Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Hawthornden Prize, the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award and (jointly) the Heinemann Award. After a scholarship to Oxford, he worked as a lecturer in Canada, then returned to England and a position in the Poetry Society. He is currently a full-time writer.
His poetry can move elegantly through the tensions between restraint and emotion, as in ‘Sonnet for Dick’ which, by beginning in stiff-lipped restraint – the dead man was “a useful number six who could whack it about” – makes the grief in the poem, once expressed, all the more powerful. Similarly, in ‘Red Boots On’, a great glimpse of joy in the snow, one of the pleasures of the poem is seeing the poet’s exuberantly stomping girlfriend through the speaker’s more hesitant viewpoint.
Wright’s reading voice is an example of what “well-spoken” refers to. He is clearly aware of the assumptions this can lead to, teasing himself for it in ‘How the Wild South-East Was Lost’, which he introduces as an attempt “to describe my upbringing as though it had been other than soft.” Other introductions include explanations of references, inspirations, and allusions to other poems – or songs. One of the high points, ‘The Orbison Consolations’, suggests to the singer of ‘Only the Lonely’ that he should restrain his hyperbole, giving a list of other types of people who, right up to “lastly the ghastly / Know the way you feel tonight.”
That enjoyment of rhyme means that Wright has been compared to Betjeman, and this is certainly evident in his easy way with formal features. While some poems revel in that, others lull us into feelings of jauntiness before giving us a real jolt. This can best be seen in ‘I Found South African Breweries Most Hospitable’, a savage satire on the boycott-breaking English cricket team of the 1980s. This reading shows that, as the poet Anthony Wilson has said, Wright “can be funny, serious and moving, and sometimes all three in the space of a single poem”.
Kit Wright’s Favourite Poetry Saying:
“I like what vamped me / In my youth: / Tune, argument, / Colour, truth.” – Kit Wright (from ‘Poetry’)
His recording was made on 31 March 2003 at The Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.
Poems by Kit Wright
Featured in the Archive
Books by Kit Wright
Great Snakes (illustrated by Posy Simmonds)
Times Supplements, 2000
Hoping It Might Be So: Poems 1974-2000
A Lisbon Sheaf
King;s Lynn Poetry Festival, 2006
The Magic Box: Poems for Children
Pan Macmillan, 2009
Dolphinella (illustrated by Peter Bailey)
Tigerella (illustrated by Peter Bailey)