Going to university really inspired me and gave me the freedom to meet new people and gather new ideas.
Poet Ian Harker completed a degree in Communication and Cultural Studies at Leeds Trinity University in 2005. Since graduating, Ian has worked at Blackwells Bookshop, in Leeds, which was also the venue for his first book launch. As well as working in Blackwells, Ian is also a volunteer English Language Teacher for refugees and asylum seekers.
Leeds Trinity, the start of his Poetry!
He started writing poetry during the first year of his degree and, since graduating, has pursued a career in poetry. "The momentum for my poetry built at Leeds Trinity for two reasons. Firstly, going to university really inspired me and gave me the freedom to meet new people and gather new ideas. Secondly, I couldn't afford a television license, so I read in my room instead! The course had superb staff, and lecturers such as John Poulter really opened up my mind and started my critical thinking processes. Outside of lectures, I was also an active member of the Drama Society."
His work has been published in a number of magazines and in 2015 he was also shortlisted for two major competitions - the Bridport Prize and the Troubadour prize. He secured a two-book deal with respected poetry publisher, Templar Poetry in 2015. Ian was chosen as one of three winners of Templar Poetry's Pamphlet Competition and his debut collection, The End of the Sky, launched at the Derwent Literature Festival in November 2015.
We were delighted to feature Ian in our Alumni Faces of Leeds Trinity Exhibition, that fellow alumnus Mark Dolby orchestrated.
BBC Proms Success
In September 2018 Ian was named runner up in the BBC Proms poetry competition. The competition, which is judged annually by The Verb presenter Ian McMillan, Poetry Society Director Judith Palmer and poet Helen Mort, encourages aspiring poets to write a poem inspired by any piece of music in that year's Proms season.
Ian's poem 'Sea Interlude, Blackpool 1987' was inspired by Benjamin Brittan's Sea Interludes and was named runner up in the age 19 plus category.
Ian said: "I'm honoured to have done so well in a prestigious national competition that receives so many entries. Leeds did brilliantly. Apart from me, the 19 plus category winner Rachel Curzon and 19 and under category winner Annabelle Fuller are both from Leeds. Judith Palmer commented that there are more winners of the National Poetry Competition from Leeds than any other city. I'm really proud."
He's been shortlisted for national competitions, published an award-winning poetry pamphlet and in 2017 launched his first full collection 'Rules of Survival' at Keats House in London. He is founder and editor of the creative writing magazine Strix, which was shortlisted for best magazine in the Saboteur Awards in April.
He added: "It's been a great year so far. Submissions for the next issue of Strix are rolling in. I have a poem featuring in an anthology edited by Ian Duhig, launching at an event on National Poetry Day on 4 October. I'm proud to be in it, and proud of the response from writers in these troubling times."
Ian's next poem will appear in Ian Duhig's anthology entitled, 'Any Change? Poetry in a Hostile Environment', which features poets from a variety of communities in Leeds.
For the love of Poetry
Ian added: There isn't a lot of money in poetry, but I've always immersed myself in it for the love of writing. The time and energy I've put into poetry is now paying off and I'm delighted to have my work recognised. Exciting times are ahead, but initially I need to publicise my first book and then work on making the second one longer. I'm determined to keep up the quality of my work and firmly believe in the old adage that you're only as good as your last book.