John's published work includes the pamphlet The Nutter in the Shrubbery (Pighog 2002, reprinted 2008), a full collection Shedman (Pighog 2008), and Our Storeys – Art and Poetry in Healthcare (Pighog 2014), co-written with visual artist Sue Ridge about their project at North Middlesex University Hospital. Editions Fuscus published the pamphlet Glove Poems in 2016. Jizz – New and Selected Poems was published in 2018 by Kingston University Press in the UK and as Nest by Red Hen Press in North America.
‘Exceptionally well-crafted poems.’ Anne Rouse.
‘Filled with a spirit of compassion.’ Sasha Dugdale.
'...justly and widely acclaimed poems... the language and metre are constantly dynamic.’ Adam Hansen.
His commissions have included poems engraved into the windows of the £6m Deakin Learning Centre, Cambridge University Hospitals, on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, for Addenbrooke’s Arts (2011); Our Storeys with artist Sue Ridge for First Aid Art—the poetry wall project in the lift lobbies at North Middlesex University Hospital (2008–11); The Forest Ridge—poem commissioned by High Weald AONB (2007)
He has received an Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Award to support the launch of Jizz (2017), a personal development award and the Arts Council England Archi–texts Award for his first residency as Shedman at the Booth Museum of Natural History, Brighton.
Literary sideshow and funster Shedman is John’s alter ego, the original poet in a shed who engages the general public with poetry and creative writing. Master of the small space literary interaction, Shedman creates workshops and events that explore the place of the shed—and poetry—in everyone’s hearts, using sheds as the focus for a unique interaction with people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds. He has been featured in the book Shedmen, on BBC 2’s Gardeners’ World and on Radio 4’s Front Row.
Shedman has set up his shed at all kinds of festivals and special events including Ledbury Poetry Festival, Havant Literary Festival and the Small Wonder Short Story Festival.
Workshops, teaching and facilitation
John has run creative writing workshops in churches, colleges, community centres, galleries, libraries, hospitals, museums, schools and shops. He's also developed highly successful workshops combining creative writing with other media, including poetry and video workshops. For ASAP/Pevensey Community Festival, Bognor Regis he developed Spy Game, a series of creative missions for young people based around spy fiction, and ran the World’s Shortest Spy Story text messaging competition.
2017 Best of ASCO/ASTRO Oncology Congress, Cluj, Romania—with Sue Ridge talking about our collaboration.
2016 Artist’s, poets and curators in hospitals: only a distraction—with Sue Ridge at the European Healthcare Design Congress, The Royal College of Physicians.
2014 Haiku Workshops in partnership with Sue Ridge for staff at Guy’s Hospital
From 2006–13 I ran annual creative writing and poetry workshops for teenagers supported by Poetry Ireland as part of Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival
2011 Workshops with students at Cambridge Community College to develop texts to include in artworks in a new learning centre at Cambridge University Hospitals.
2010 Dragon Shedman Workshops at schools in Weston super Mare. Second World War Shedman at Eastbourne Technology College working with teenagers and former evacuees as part of a WRVS Heritage Project. Poetry workshops at a care home for patients suffering from Huntington’s as part of West Meon Literary Festival.
John has also facilitated and/or organised
- Best Mates drop-in creative writing workshops for Father’s Day at Brighton Jubilee Library
- Crew Club Scary Stories workshops with 12-16 year olds at Whitehawk in Brighton as part of Brighton Children’s Book Festival resulting in a DVD
- creative writing for mixed groups and older people in Egham in association with Royal Holloway, University of London, and creative workshops for teenagers at Addlestone Youth Centre as part of R:Fest (Runnymede International Literary Festival) including creative writing, dance, drumming, hiphop, photography, graffiti and street arts, and video, resulting in an exhibition and DVD
- Arundel Writers Group at Arundel Wetlands Centre
2014 CELTA TEFL
2010 Golden Boat Translation Workshop Skocjan, Slovenia
2008 Digital Horizons Social Media Course
2006 International Publishers Workshop Slovenia
MembershipsJohn is a member of ALCS, The Johnson Society of London, The Royal Society of Literature, The Poetry Society and The Society of Authors.
“John is one of the most captivating writers and skilled communicators that any festival, community or school could invite into their lives.” Sheila Deegan, Arts Officer, Limerick City and County
“John worked with patience and charisma to inspire students to create poetry then with great application and synthesis of vision distilled their work into a single poem which was etched into the windows of the new student building – permanently to inspire future generations.” Damian Hebron, Head of Arts Addenbrooke’s Arts, Cambridge
“The workshops were fantastic - I never imagined that anyone would get them writing poetry as enthusiastically as you did. It really did make a huge difference with the project, and I couldn't say anything that you could improve about your approach - you had them eating out of your hand!” Rachel Merrington Cambridge Regional College
“I invited John to come to the little town of Herzele, where we organise every year the literary festival 'Lezen in de Lente' (Reading in Spring). He made an intervention in English on the stage that surprised a lot of people. Afterwards, he interacted with the public and stimulated them to write their own poetry. That is the essential drive of Lezen in de Lente: quality and erudition, but close to the people.” Filip De Bodt, vzw 't Uilekot, Herzele, Belgium