Lawrence Sail is a freelance writer who was brought up, and still lives, in Exeter.He read French and German at St John’s College, Oxford, taught for four years in Kenya, then held various teaching posts in England. He has published eleven collections of poems, most recently Waking Dreams: New & Selected Poems, a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation (Bloodaxe Books, 2010) and Songs of the Darkness: Poems for Christmas (Enitharmon Press, 2010). He has compiled and edited a number of anthologies, including First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital (Faber, 1988) and, with Kevin Crossley-Holland, The New Exeter Book of Riddles (Enitharmon, 1999) and Light Unlocked: Christmas Card Poems (Enitharmon, 2005). Enitharmon also published Cross-currents, a book of his essays, in 2005. Sift: memories of childhood appeared in 2010 (Impress Books), and The Key to Clover and other essays in July 2013 (Shoestring Press). A new collection, The Quick, is due from Bloodaxe Books in June 2015.
He has been a visiting reader and lecturer for the British Council in various countries, including Bosnia, Colombia, Egypt, France, India, Kenya, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and Ukraine. In 2012 he recorded a selection of his work for The Poetry Archive and a number of his poems, including a sequence on the theme of silence, have been set to music. He has been chairman of the Arvon Foundation and programme director of the Cheltenham Festival of Literature. He was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in 1992, and an Arts Council Writer’s Bursary the following year. He was on the management committee of the Society of Authors from 2007 to 2011 and, in 2011, president of the U.K. jury for the European Literature Prize. In 2004 he received a Cholmondeley Award for his poetry. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.