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 have recently retired as Poet-in-Residence at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum here in Stirling, Scotland. 'The Smith' has already published 'Oswald the Cat's Book of Poems for Fun and Finding out',intended for children and grownups as well. To mark my retirement, 'The Smith' has also published [July 2021] 'Enchanted Ground', a new collection my poems about exhibitions and items in the Museum
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
Our first Christmas in Nigeria, shortly after we were married, was spent in the almost empty compound of The Salvation Army Secondary School in Nigeria – then a grey group of single story buildings with zinc roofs. There was no phone, no electricity and no running water – and we had next to no money.
Just you and me,
Lost in a large unlived in house;
The gloomy rubber trees behind
As dark and strange as dark and strange could be;
The trailing wire, fixed to a bamboo pole
Our only contact with the BBC.
Colleagues and pupils gone away;
Some glad to leave,
The crickets loud, the night air warm:
No fun, no youthful shapes with flickering lamps
Moving, post-homework, to the empty dorm
On Christmas Eve.
Our special meal, to mark your natal day,
Was egg and bacon – yes it’s true.
Thus, Lord of Life, unlikely lad,
We said ‘all hail’ to You.
JJC with HEC December 2021