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Haverhill poet's new collection of work includes a poem applauded by Sir Ian Rankin



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An award-winning poet from Haverhill has published a new book of his works – one that includes a poem that earned praise from renowned crime writer Sir Ian Rankin.

Called The Storm in the Piano, the collection by Christopher James was inspired, he said, by seeing an abandoned piano in the rain.

Christopher, who lives with his wife Maria and their three children in Broad Street, said: “It contains all my best poems from the last three or four years, including four first prize winning poems, three second prize winning poems, and plenty more that have been highly commended or published in places like The Spectator.

Christopher James with his book of poetry, The Storm in the Piano. Contributed picture
Christopher James with his book of poetry, The Storm in the Piano. Contributed picture

“One poem, The Watchmaker of Idlib, was tweeted by Ian Rankin who spotted it in The Spectator and told his fans how much he liked it.”

The book also includes The Archbishops at the Lido, about all the Archbishops of Canterbury swimming in Jesus Green Lido in Cambridge, that won the 2019 Suffolk Poetry Society’s Crabbe poetry competition.

Other poems include Pavarotti in China, about the famous tenor cycling through Tiananmen Square during his visit.

Christopher James collects his trophy from Dr Tiffany Atkinson after winning the 2019 Suffolk Poetry Society Crabbe Poetry Competition for his poem, The Archbishops at the Lido. Contributed photo
Christopher James collects his trophy from Dr Tiffany Atkinson after winning the 2019 Suffolk Poetry Society Crabbe Poetry Competition for his poem, The Archbishops at the Lido. Contributed photo

There’s also Sherlock of Aleppo, which is about two Syrian children escaping into the world of Sherlock Holmes to escape the horrors of the war in Syria. This poem was long-listed for the National Poetry Competition.

Of the book, Chris added: “I’m particularly pleased that it also features my own cover art. It’s the front door of the London home of 1930s poet Sir Stephen Spender.”

Christopher has previously won first prize in the National Poetry Competition (2008) the Ledbury, Oxford Brooks, Suffolk Poetry Society and Bridport prizes.

Sir Ian Rankin
Sir Ian Rankin

He is also a recipient of an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors.

His previously published poetry collections include Farewell to the Earth (Arc, 2011), and The Fool (Templar, 2014). He has also published three Sherlock Holmes novels, including The Adventure of the Ruby Elephants (MX, 2015).

The book costs £7 from Maytree Press – Uniquely Independent Poetry Publishing