Official Website of Author, Poet & Translator
John J. Coutts
Welcome to my website! I am a poet, performer, author and translator. I've written extensively for BBC radio and published books and articles in the fields of literature and religion. I am also Poet-in-Residence at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum here in Stirling, Scotland. 'Ths Smith has published 'Oswald the Cat's Book of Poems for Fun and Finding out' intended for children and grownups as well.
As a poet, I believe that obscurity is not profundity, and that obscenity is not originality. I write in 'traditional' metres - and many of my poems are intended for public performance as well as private reading.
My qualifications include a first class degree in English Language and Literature from Oxford University and PhD in New Testament Studies from Edinburgh University. I am also a linguist - a number of my translations from Russian have appeared in The Complete Works of Alexander Pushkin in English" - Published by Milner & Co. A new bilingual edition of Pushkin's Lyrics is now appearing, published by the Alma Press. My latest publication is 'Rap around the Gospel'- stories from the life of Jesus with rap commentary. It's available as a paper copy or a PDF and rappers are welcome to copy and adapt the scripts to suit their own talent. Email me to find out more.
POEM OF THE MONTH
THE NIGHT MY TROMBONE FROZE
[Hawick, Scotland, in the 1980s]
Cold ears, cold toes.
King Frost will get a grip tonight.
A single snowflake whirls and blows,
Dancing in the lamppost’s light
A small brass band announces Christmastide
‘Glory to God on high,
And peace down here.’
How long, O Lord, how long?
Rather too long for me, I fear.
It’s started snowing.
O for a hot mince pie!
Something’s gone badly wrong.
Cruel King Frost has gripped my trombone slide.
I can’t keep going.
We still had proper winters then,
Though climate change was creeping up unseen.
The strength of middle age won’t come again,
And yet these notes that memory made
I wrap in rhyme for you:
Here, friend, are truths for ever true:
That night, no single horn was blown in vain.
Fun may or may not fade,
But faith and hope and steadfast love remain.
A BOX OF SURPRISES
"An entertainment in poetry and storytelling"
I present a flexible and engaging performance which interests both old and young - and gives the audience a chance to join in.
The "Box of Surprises" turns out to be a "Pirate's Chest" full of treasures - ordinary items with extraordinary stories.
A second theme - "True Tales of a Long Lifetime' - takes us a journey of discovery if prose and verse, mixing laughter, reflection, entertainment and insight. "
'The Box of Surprises'" was full of words of wit and wisdom - and your readings gave us rhythms and rhymes, moving us to laughter and near tears." - Liberton Kirk Guild: