Graham High has been reading and writing poetry since his teens. He had some early successes with the little presses in the mid seventies which resulted in two chapbook collections from Outposts and Athenaeum Books. After University, at which he studied Fine Art, his career in the visual arts meant that poetry took rather a back seat and it was not until the 1990s that his commitment to poetry became visible again.
As part of his ‘fresh start’ with poetry Graham has also become interested in contemporary English language haiku and haibun. He is the editor of Blithe Spirit, the Journal of the British Haiku Society, and has appeared in over 40 different haiku and haibun journals world wide, as well as having won a variety of competitions. He represented Britain at the Inaugural European Haiku Conference in Germany in 2005. His ‘mainstream’ poetry also appears in magazines regularly and in anthologies, including the Blue Nose Poets-of-the-Year Winners’ Anthology of 1996. In 2000 Wolf on the Third Floor, a collection of poems based on his experiences in Russia, where he lived for some time, appeared from New Hope International.
His activities as a sculptor and painter have resulted in many public commissions, particularly for large bronze works, and a wide range of group and one person exhibitions for his paintings both in Britain and abroad. One Person exhibitions in Moscow (1989) and Riga (1990) were particularly exciting coming as they did just before the break up of the Soviet Union. Graham’s interests in poetry and in sculpture are currently coming together in a new series of bronze portraits of contemporary British poets.
Extracts from selected reviews:
Wolf on the Third Floor:
- journeys especially are caught vividly, but there is also poignant social comment.
(John Francis Haines)
Beautifully produced as one would expect from NHI. ... Exceptional imagery and a fine economy of words ... A collection I'm happy to own.
International (Tom Lewis)
Negative/Not Negative is one of the best poems in the booklet. Mr. High has a cold fascination with Russia as shown in some of these lines — The grey light seeps into one's bones, — The sky glares down like a constant question. — The comparison of rooks and stars is well observed, but the last three lines sum up the poem beautifully — ..The Russians are a grey people,// living in the thin penumbra... — As a whole, Wolf on the Third Floor is an accomplished body of work, with certain lines that ring and echo in one's head. Each poem reveals a little more of itself at every reading. There is the added interest of Mr. High's introspective views of Russia — a land strange and forbidding to most of us. It is a startling collection on an unfamiliar theme.
Ink (Laura Sheridan, Editor)
This is poetry of remarkable quality, enriched with metaphorical detail and assonant balance of word and phrase; cadence is appropriately linked to change of mood and situation. There is lyricism in Graham High's poetry, whether in rhyming stanzas or in those poems which adhere to no particular verse-form, and I most readily and unreservedly give this fine publication the thumbs-up. It is a truly commendable collection.
(Bernard M Jackson)
contains some very graphic descriptions of contemporary Russia. The landscapes on train journeys especially are caught vividly, but there is also poignant social comment.
Poetry Church (John Waddington-Feather)
High is quite capable of understanding a foreign consciousness, and rendering it in verse — not an easy task. I'll be on the lookout for more from Graham High in the future.
Although cold to touch, many of the poems transcend the narrative, revealing the warm undercurrent of the poet's affections, like the excellent 11 page Ukraine Honeymoon where the newly-weds leave Moscow by train. "Filigree silver round the glass/ chatters your teeth as we take tea/ in the wind, watching the suburbs pass/ The vodka-sodden guard smelling of piss/ peered down your blouse as he gushed hot water/ from the samovar with lascivious hiss". and we follow them all the way as they struggle with ghosts of the past and temptations of the present as they rattle through fabulous landscapes that sing and come alive with the poet's deft touch. A gem of a read.
Affectionate Punch (Andrew Tutty)
This collection combines elements of a good travel book with a mysterious hint of LeCarre.
Poetry (Jo Colley)
an exceptional collection of poems, each one a little gem in itself, but like a song cycle taking us on a journey... No review can do full justice to the high quality and absorbing content of this book. No one who risks their £4.50 will be disappointed - like me you will want to read it again and again - for each time new pleasures will be discovered.
Monthly (John S Mercer)
High's work is honest, intelligent, and tender. He loves and is intimidated by the hard-bitten Russia he evokes so feelingly in these formidable poems.
There is much beauty and intelligence in this poetry. I found myself wondering if Graham High could have any Russian ancestry, since there is a feel in some of the work of Osip Mandelstam and of that indefinable sense inadequately describable as a "Russian soul". The depth and subtlety in this collection is satisfying.
I enjoyed the leisurely pace and the stark uncluttered phrasing.
The whole book has the feel of a novel. The individual poems merge to tell a complete story; of love on the move, through the varied sights and sounds of a still rather mysterious and alien place called Russia. … It is clever stuff, and very well written … I highly recommend this book: it is contemporary poetry at its best.
HQ Poetry Magazine (Kevin Bailey, Editor)
on the Third Floor",
of Unresting Thought",
all poems featured on this site remains with the