John Foggin

john foggin

John Foggin lives in Ossett, West Yorkshire. He helps to organise The Puzzle Hall Poets in Sowerby Bridge, and writes a weekly poetry blog: the great fogginzo’s cobweb (

His poems have won first prizes in The Plough Poetry [2013 & 14], Camden/Lumen [2014], McLellan [2015] and Ilkley LitFest [2015] competitions. One poem, Camera Obscura, was Highly Commended in the Forward Prize awards, and appears in The Forward Book of Poetry 2015.

His first two pamphlets, Running Out of Space and Backtracks, were published in early 2014, and a chapbook, Larach, was published by Ward Wood in December 2014. It was recently reviewed by the Poetry Book Society.

John Foggin

John Foggin

Outlaws and Fallen Angels

‘In Outlaws and Fallen Angels John Foggin turns his gaze towards the world of sculpture and painting. The poems are lively, sometimes challenging sometimes playful, but with a deep engagement in, and passion for, art that is always evident. This is poetry written with a keen and unflinching eye that takes us on a whistle-stop tour of history and mythology via explorations of the lives and loves of artists and their work.’ – Kim Moore

‘Foggin’s responses to the range of visual and plastic art that provides the jumping-off points for these poems go far beyond ekphrastic paraphrase. Intellectually, aesthetically and politically engaged – the range of reference includes Cartesian philosophy, the Taliban, John Keats and Tony Harrison – these vivid, crafted and humane poems are wise and witty, grounded in compassion.’ – Steve Ely

His Coy Mistress

‘Make me immortal with a kiss’

he’d murmur, and then he’d kiss me.

By turns laconic, edgy, lean, sardonic,

even sentimental at a push,

he’d use every trick in the book

to charm a girl already softened up

by poetry and songs.

I’d wish this kiss could last for ever.

Be careful what you wish for.

I hear his langorous sigh. His:

‘So, so, break off this last lamenting kiss’.

And then I discover that we can’t.

My face in his eye, his in mine appears.

And stays. Our lips are sore. Our teeth hurt.

It’s hard to breathe. My arm has gone to sleep.

‘O heaven is in these lips.

Here wilI I dwell.

Your kiss steals my soul’

That’s all very well.

A kiss should surely wake

the palace from its sleep,

set the spits a-turning,

break the spell.

I fear that we may never die at all.

What I enjoy about John Foggin’s poems is the image and spirit of the material world, conjured and appraised from a stance that is both wry and deeply thoughtful, and often sounding an honestly felt, deft metaphysicality.

Greta Stoddart

Take a ramble with John Foggin through moorlands, woodlands and the distant past. You’ll meet the ghosts of navvies and Norman MacCaig; the old wild gods of stags and sparrowhawks. Once you’ve encountered the dark watchers in these beautifully crafted poems, you won’t want to take the path home.
                                                                                    Yvonne Reddick

 Each poem in this collection is a gift-wrapped in a rare richness of language. No matter what the subject, Foggin is able to evoke the small details that get to the crux of it – the thud of a helicopter’s blade, the scrape and shift of a ladder on a granite wall. ‘How much does a ghost weigh?’ he asks in one of his poems. This is a collection in which you get the sense Foggin has weighed up the value of each and every word.

John Foggin is a poet at the top of his game and this is a collection that will stay with you long after the final note has been played.

                                                                                       Tom Weir

There Was This Wren

Everything leads here. Grey estuary,
sour-green saltmarsh, bright leats, the dike,
wet sunken garden, dead stems,

and the wren. Which is special now.
The wren has no notion of this, being intent.
What it is intent on is none of my business.
Though I imagine for a moment that it is.

Which is where we live, moment to moment.
Doctor Johnson wanders into the garden
and kicks a stone. This is a metaphor.
The stone does not think of this,
being unaware that what it is is stone

and all its component molecules
which are mainly made of nothing,
as is the big flat wet shining water which is
only surface and interface and distance.

Anything could happen, but only this
moment and this moment and this moment
does. Nothing is long enough to be anything.

Here comes John Locke, under the sycamore,
imagining heft and texture, the sound of leaves,
imagining the world will vanish when he stops.
It will. Nothing stays. Mainly what everything
consists of is nothing holding itself together.