Katherine Gallagher was born in Maldon, Victoria, in 1935, graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1963 and taught in Melbourne for five years before moving to Europe, living first in London and then in Paris for nine years. In 1979 she moved back to London, working as a secondary teacher and after 1990, as a poetry tutor for the Open College of the Arts, Jackson’s Lane, Barnet College and Torriano, London. During this time she co-edited Poetry London as well as working extensively with primary school children. She has poems in over forty-five children’s anthologies.
In 1978, she was awarded a New Writer’s Fellowship from the Literature Board, Australia Council, and in 1981, she won the Brisbane Warana Poetry Prize. Her book Passengers to the City (Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1985) was shortlisted for the John Bray National Poetry Award. In 1987 she was one of the five poets representing Australia at the Struga International Poetry Festival. Her second book, Fish-rings on Water, was published by Forest Books, London and introduced by Peter Porter. In 1994, her translation from French of Jean-Jacques Celly’s poems, The Sleepwalker with Eyes of Clay, introduced by Peter Florence, was published by Forest Books. In 2000, her third full collection, Tigers on the Silk Road was published by Arc Publications and she was awarded a Royal Literary Fund Award. In 2005, Vagabond Books, Sydney, published her chapbook, After Kandinsky, in their ‘Rare Object Series’. In 2006, Arc Publications published her fourth collection Circus-Apprentice, and in 2010, Carnival Edge: New & Selected Poems.
From 2002-8, she was Education Officer for Writers Inc and from July-October, 2002, Writer in Residence at Railway Fields Nature Reserve, Harringay, London. In 2008, she received a London Society of Authors’ Foundation Award. Her poems were featured on the A.B.C’s POETICA programme, Radio National, in June, 2009; the programme was repeated two years later. In 2012, she represented Australia as a Parnassus Poet at the Derry Tall Ships’ Homecoming Celebrations, Northern Ireland. .
In November, 2012, Carol Rumens chose her poem ‘The Year of the Tree’ for the Guardian blog’s Poem of the Week, and in 2015, Andrew Spicer made it into a film, featuring Molly Byrne and presented on Vimeo.
She has read her poetry at festivals and universities in the UK, Australia, Ireland, Germany, Italy and France and her poems have been translated into French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Romanian and Serbo-Croat.