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Brian Johnstone (UK)

Photo: Adrian Lewis
Photo: Adrian Lewis

Born in Edinburgh in 1950, Brian Johnstone has lived in the Fife countryside since 1972. Graduating from The University of St Andrews in 1973, from 1975 to 1997 he worked as a primary school teacher in various Fife schools. Returning to his early interest in writing only in the late 1980s, since then he has published three full collections and three pamphlets, as well as appearing in anthologies and other publications in Scotland, elsewhere in the UK and in Europe and the Americas.

His poems have been translated into more than a dozen different languages, and published in the respective countries. In 2009 a chapbook of his poems in Italian translation was published by L'Officina (Vincenza). In 2003 he won the Poetry on the Fringe competition at the Edinburgh Festival. Previous successes include winning the Writers' Bureau (2003) and the Mallard (1998) competitions, as well as being a prize winner in the UK National Poetry Competition (2000). In 2013 he was invited to record his work for the Poetry Archive website.

Brian Johnstone has appeared at a variety of international poetry festivals from Macedonia to Nicaragua, from Florence to Stockholm, and has given readings in New York, Stavanger, Krakow and Athens. He has appeared at numerous festivals and poetry venues across the UK either as a solo reader or with his poetry & jazz group Trio Verso. A frequent cross-media collaborator, he has worked with a wide range of visual artists, has had arrangements of his poems created by composers working in both the classical and jazz idioms and has had poetry films made of his work by film-makers in both New York and Scotland.

In 1998 he was one of the founders of StAnza: Scotland's International Poetry Festival. He served as Festival Director of StAnza from 2000-2010, and as Festival Consultant from 2010-2013. Having co-founded Shore Poets in Edinburgh in 1991, he went on to organise Cave Readings for the Pittenweem Arts Festival from 1995-99. He has been a frequent chair of poetry events for the Edinburgh International Book Festival and has judged poetry competitions for the Wigtown Book Festival and the William Soutar Writing Prize. In 2014 he served on the panel judging poetry entries for the Scottish Book Trust New Writers' Award. He has also taught creative writing for the University of St Andrews Open Association and the Open College of the Arts.

He lives with his wife, the printmaker and creator of artist's books, Jean Johnstone, on the edge of the East Neuk of Fife.

Brian Johnstone has now been included on the prestigious Poetry Archive website. His page can be found here: poetryarchive.org/poet/brian-johnstone

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