John Mole was born in 1941 in Taunton and now lives in Hertfordshire where for many years he taught in secondary schools and ran The Mandeville Press with Peter Scupham. Recipient of the Gregory and Cholmondeley Awards for poetry, and the Signal Award for his writing for children, he is currently resident poet to the City of London as part of the Poet in the City project. He has also published a collection of his review essays as Passing Judgements and written the libretto for Alban, a community opera which received its premiere in St Albans Abbey in the spring of 2009. (Author photo by Caroline Forbes)
The fact that John Mole has often written for children may be behind a preoccupation, felt throughout his poetry, with the passing on of experience; certainly it gives his poems a concise clarity. Personal memories are explored with a sharpness which avoids sentimentality while the seriousness of many of his subjects is addressed with a blend of affection, sardonic humour and a characteristic lightness of touch. Political, intimate and exceptionally readable, The Point of Loss engages with its subjects in a variety of verse styles, ensuring that every poem is memorable in its own right despite the range of Mole’s interests. As John Clare, Herod and Billie Holiday rub shoulders with figures from the writer’s own life, it is the significance we have to one another which is fleshed out here without pretension.
Several of the poems owe much to his involvement with music and the visual arts, particularly jazz and film, but rather than providing a diversion they contribute to a way of looking at the world which strengthens the unity of the collection as a whole. In a collection that is never other than empowering, positive and humanist, John acknowledges the odds stacked against each person, but looks to poetry to change our perceptions.
'His needle-sharp feeling for language feeds both his humour and his seriousness. Often, he seems to push us gently into understanding that the most serious things may also be the lightest and slightest. This gives his poetry an unusual grace and lack of self-regard. Again and again this theme recurs, wrapped in one subject or another: how do we live with the brevity of our lives, and the way that what we make will disappear? Perhaps it's Mole's realism which makes him, in the end, such a consoling poet.'
Enitharmon / Dufour Editions