Poet, performer, anthologist, John Agard was born in Guyana and came to Britain in 1977. He won the Casa de las Américas Prize in 1982, and a Paul Hamlyn Award in 1997. He was writer-in-residence with the BBC in 1998, working with the Windrush Project, and writer-in-residence at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich in 2007.
His books include five collections from Bloodaxe, From the Devil’s Pulpit (1997), Weblines (2000), and We Brits (2006), which was shortlisted for the 2007 Decibel Writer of the Year Award; and Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems and Clever Backbone, published simultaneously in 2009. His anthology Hello New (2000), published by Orchard Books, was chosen by the Poetry Society as its Children’s Poetry Bookshelf Best Anthology. He won the CLPE Poetry Award 2009 for The Young Inferno (Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2008). He lives in Lewes, East Sussex.
John Agard performs the title-poem from Alternative Anthem at Soho Theatre in London:
A second excerpt from the Alternative Anthem DVD-book (2009). John Agard and fellow Guyanan Keith Waithe perform 'Flute Boy', a piece specially written by Agard for his flute maestro friend. Then Waithe accompanies Agard's performance of his poem 'Marriage of Opposites'. Finally, the third poem in this excerpt is Agard's much celebrated 'Half-caste', now on the syllabus in many English schools. This live performance by Agard and Waithe was filmed at Havant Arts Centre in 2008: