Gavin Bantock


Born 4th July, 1939 in Barnt Green, near Birmingham. Graduated from New College, Oxford in 1963. Moved to Japan in 1969, became a university professor, and has lived there ever since. He has published more than ten collections of verse and verse translations, and has written and directed numerous full-length and short English-language dramas, and directed some 200 stage productions in Japan, including all 38 of Shakespeare’s plays, completing this feat with his production of ‘King John’ in December 2016. He is the only foreigner in the world who has ever directed all of Shakespeare’s plays in English in Japan.

GB was Joint-Winner of the 1964 Richard Hillary Award (Oxford) for his epic poem Christ (Donald Parsons, 1966), which also won the Alice Hunt-Barlett Award in 1966. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 1969. Further prizes followed: Arvon Foundation International Poetry Competition (1998), Cardiff International Poetry Competition (1999), and several other awards.

GB has published several books with Anvil Press Poetry now managed by Carcanet, notably Dragons (1980), Just Think of It(2002) and, SeaManShip (2003). His poems have appeared in numerous UK and USA magazines and anthologies.

GB’s poetry deals mainly with the predicament of man in the modern world and reveals his deep love of and sympathy for his fellow men. His uses of language and sound are strikingly original, as is his imagery, which is often provocative and outlandish. The late British poet John Heath-Stubbs, referring to GB’s Christ, wrote in the Poetry Review: “This is certainly the most important poem by a young poet to appear for a number of years…. He is, if you like, something of a barbarian, arrogant, a mad visionary. But these are qualities we can do with…. Above all, he writes like a dedicated poet. I cannot conceive that he will stop writing or grow tame.” The late Sir Maurice Bowra wrote of him: “I am considerably impressed…he is undeniably a notable poet”, and a review in Tribune states: “He communicates energy: his poems have compelling mythopoeic unity, yet they never seem to be ends-in-themselves.”

GB’s single strongest poetic inspiration, he says, is the sea; his poetry makes frequent use of sea images. Early influences were Ezra Pound, Dylan Thomas and Ted Hughes, as well as the bold colours, rhythms and emotions of Anglo-Saxon verse. Yet GB has a powerful, modern voice of his own.

With his wife Kyoko, he has published translations of the best-selling poems and essays of the paraplegic poet and painter Tomihiro Hoshino—Journey of the Wind(1988) and Road of the Tinkling Bell (1990). In September, 1994, GB read excerpts of Hoshino’s work in the Carnegie Hall, New York. He has also published in Japan some dozen books of essays on a wide variety of subjects (as university textbooks).

In 2016, he published a totally revised version of his 1966 prize-winning epic poem Christ, now re-titled Christos. In 2018 he published his landmark modern-verse translations of the medieval poems Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl, a project on which he worked for over forty years. Both books are available from Amazon and Brimstone Press.

Gavin Bantock's books with Brimstone Press:

Gawain Christos Ganymede White woman third form bagatelles

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