Michael Bartholomew-Biggs was born in Essex but grew up in Middlesex. A youthful aptitude for sums and symbolic manipulation caused him to embark on a computational career, first in the aircraft industry and then in higher education. He retired from full-time academic life in 2008.
While living in Bedfordshire in the late 1980’s, he took some new-found poetic aspirations along to the Toddington Poetry Society and was met with generous advice and encouragement from wise and sympathetic listeners such as John Cotton, Donald Atkinson and F.M. Brown. Magazine appearances followed, thanks to helpful editors like David Lightfoot and Roy Blackman.
His first pamphlet appeared in 1998 and has been followed by three others – the most recent being Uneasy Relations (Hearing Eye, 2007) in which the two halves of his brain cooperate to produce poems which play with mathematical concepts. His first full collection Tell it Like it Might Be (Smokestack, 2008) searches for “what really happened” behind familiar stories such as lovers’ protestations, government statements or the Christian gospels. His latest book is Tradesman’s Exit (Shoestring, 2009) which mixes elegy with personal recollection to test the links between who we are, what we do and how we might be remembered.
He now lives in London with his wife, the poet Nancy Mattson, and together they run the Poetry in the Crypt events at St Mary’s Church in Islington. He is currently working on a narrative sequence set in the 1920s and 30s and also on an “evolution myth” based on a series of paintings by the Australian artist David Walsh.
On Mike's published work:
These books can be obtained through Mike or, in some cases, direct from the publisher:
2009: Tradesman's Exit – Shoestring Press
Poems which look affectionately at some of the 21st century’s endangered trades and crafts – and at what might supersede them.
“A generous and inclusive collection of poems” (The Frogmore Papers)
Tell it Like it Might Be – Smokestack Books £7.95
Poems which celebrate and question the value of human imagination – the source of vision and empathy but also the root of delusion and deception.
“A book to be welcomed and savoured by a poet who not only looks but sees” (Peter Bennet)
“If my house caught fire and I had to run out very quickly I would reach for Tell it Like it Might Be – it’s serious work from a very able poet” (Other Poetry)
Uneasy Relations – Hearing Eye £3
Poems based on mathematical ideas which may be murmured as zen-like meditations.
“… elegant and relevant – even to non mathematicians” (Sphinx)
“He poses … questions that are unanswerable, scary and fascinating” (Bulletin of the London Mathematical Society)
Inklings of Complicity – Pikestaff Press £3
These poems dip into the undercurrents of everyday experience and which may, or may not, explain what happens at the surface.
“Impressively peopled with detail” (Envoi)
Helping with Enquiries– Crossgrain Press £3
A selection of poems for Christmas (and beyond).
“The quiet tone of these excellent poems conceals their great strength.” (Sphinx)
Anglicised by Common Use - Waldean Press £2.95:
Poems of identity which explain the author’s tenuous but genuine claim to Irish nationality.
“Oblique approaches poetically achieved” (Other Poetry)
all poems featured on this site remains with the