Nigel Gerrans was born in Surrey in 1931. He studied Modern Languages at Cambridge, after which he spent several years teaching in a school for cerebral palsied children. He later worked as a filmmaker for the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries, before taking ordination as a priest and serving as full-time Hospital Chaplain in a busy District General Hospital. He is now retired and lives in Scarborough, North Yorkshire.
Nigel's collection Tenebrae, published in 2009, was the first Valley Press book not written by VP founder Jamie McGarry; which makes Nigel the very first 'Valley Press author'. A second collection, A Visit to the Art Gallery, followed in 2010, and 2015 saw the publication of It Is I Who Speak: Selected Poems, edited by Nigel's great friend and collaborator Felix Hodcroft.
In 2009, 21-year-old poet Jamie McGarry met 78-year-old poet Nigel Gerrans. Nigel had been writing poetry for 70 years, but had rarely shared the results with anyone except a few close friends. Jamie had been producing books and booklets since he was 6, and had put the words 'Valley Press' on his most recent ones – but it wasn't until meeting Nigel that he realised publishing other people might be an interesting and rewarding pursuit.
Later that year, Tenebrae was published, with 'Valley Press' written on the back cover, and the rest is history. Thought-provoking and painstakingly-crafted, Nigel's eclectic spiritual poems found hundreds of readers across the world, and set Valley Press on the road to becoming what it is today.
Seven years later, we've decided Tenebrae will not be reprinted again, as almost all its poems appear in the newer volume It Is I Who Speak: Selected Poems, published July 2015. (One of the non-selected Tenebrae poems appears in our 2014 anthology A Pocketful of Windows.) We have just five copies left of Tenebrae, so if you'd like to purchase the book, this would be a good time to do so!
One of the great ‘undiscovered’ post-war British poets, Nigel Gerrans’ sixty-year creative journey has been marked by personal reflection, piercing observation and eclectic spirituality. This generous new selection, made by the author’s long-time friend and collaborator Felix Hodcroft, offers readers new and old the best possible overview of this remarkable body of work.
From the call to action of ‘Night Express’ to the modern-day tragedy of ‘Patient X’, from the small triumphs of ‘At Her Own Pace’ to the biting satire of the previously-unpublished ‘Ballad of Ted and Joan’, Gerrans meets the world’s gaze squarely, never failing to ask the ‘necessary question’ or skilfully articulate its answer. Finally, and in full, there is ‘Song Sequence’, a unique blend of passion and philosophy that has been a lifetime in the making; arguably the poet’s crowning achievement.
It Is I Who Speak is a book filled with energy; a fascinating and vital record of a wonderful writer.
“Energetic and image-laden ... this is a vivid and engaging collection of poems that deserve to live long in the memory.”
— Poetry Book Society Bulletin
Be part of our story. Join the Valley Press newsletter.