Mario's biography is, shall we say, interesting. He was originally a Natural Sciences graduate and moved into freelance writing after a stint at teaching, a PhD in optoelectronics at UCL, organic farming / goat-herding in Ireland, and a further BA in Environmental Studies at Middlesex University.
Recently Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes and Westminster Universities, his poetry performances attract international recognition (for example, with the British Council and the BBC). He is the only poet to have been resident with BBC Radio 3, and with the Imperial War Museum, where he lectures and teaches on the AQA syllabus (War Poetry).
Mario is now in considerable demand in schools for his innovative, energetic and thought-provoking work with children in creative writing. One Head of English described his activities as "Genuinely, originally profound". He teaches creative writing at every level, but specialises in Science and Poetry, and Ecological Issues for schools and universities.
Mario is also a songwriter and librettist/ lyricist, and has become a regular Arvon tutor. The collaborative performance poetry group which he co-founded, ShadoWork, recently swept the board in terms of awards and has performed across the country.
He is four times winner of the London Writers Competition, winner of the Bridport and Sheffield Thursday competitions, winner of the Arvon/ Daily Telegraph Competition, and is the Literacy Consultant at the Imperial War Museum.
SHRAPNEL AND SHEETS (Headland Publications, 1996) PBS Recommendation. Debut collection.
LEPIDOPTERA (KT Press, 1999/2001). Science-poetry and short stories.
BOSCO (Hearing Eye, 1999/2001). Book-length ecological poetry sequence, widely acclaimed.
THE STAMINA OF SHEEP (Havering Arts Office, 2001/02). A 'Poeclectic' tour de force. Year of the Artist project 2000. Awarded 'Best Fiction' Prize 2000-2002 in the Essex Book Awards.
HEAVY WATER (Enitharmon, 2004). A book-length poem of stunning power based on the Chernobyl disaster, winner of the Arvon/ Daily Telegraph Prize. Described by Jackie Kay as 'Heartfelt, ambitious and alive'. Made into an award-winning international film.
FLOWERS OF SULPHUR (Enitharmon, 2007). Award-winning poetry collection themed around science, war, ecology, love. "Impressive in its strength, energy and tenderness. A fine synthesis of deeply felt personal experience and the wonders and exactitudes of science." (Moniza Alvi)
i tulips (Enitharmon, 2010). Surges from its American modernist influences into fascinatingly British timbres of expression. "A truly ambitious landmark body of work.” (PBS Bulletin Spring 2010)
Many scientific, ecological and creative writing articles. For example, Public Art Journal ('Anaesthesia or Synaesthesia?' vol 1 no 2 Oct 1999); NAWE HE Forum issue 2 Autumn 2001 ('Public Poems: Performance Poems without the Performer'); and 'Poetry Workshops - Sea Change or Algal Bloom' (Agenda 35/4, 36/1 1998).
'New Voices' performance at Royal Festival Hall.
Broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and 4, plus BBC 1 News and BBC News Online.
Over 600 poems in print, including magazines: Poetry Review, The Rialto, Prospice, Iron, Acumen, Poetry Wales, PLN, Orbis, Blade. Poems/prose in anthologies including: Forward Anthology 1996; An Idea of Bosnia (Autumn House 1996); New Christian Poetry (Collins 1990).
Poems in The Independent, The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers.
Social and poetic analysis in: Agenda; Soundings; Resurgence; Social Alternatives; The IEE; Aisling.
Experimental Poetry Performance group 'Shadowork' launched at Poetry Society, July 1998 and national tours under Arts Council and Regional Arts funding.
Secondary school teacher (trained and qualified). Lecturer in Physics and Science; Ecology and the Environment; Social Awareness (Middlesex University). Has run poetry activities in schools across the country.
Has taught/given seminars on: Publishing and the Small Press; Multiculturalism and 'Writing from the Interface'; War Poetry and the Modern Experience of War. Organiser and founder of poetry workshops and creative writing in London for 10 years (funded by LAB) and founder/tutor on residential writing weekends at 'The Abbey', Oxfordshire.
sample of work:
There'd been dew. Maybe a light rain.
And a blot drew my eye to that plot of light
through my kitchen window. Closer. I saw
the pincer legs measure out each wire. That
pause of the abdomen, pot-backed, before it dipped
to spot-weld each link. I took a chair outside
to stand on. Craned. I wanted to live.
It let me place a fingertip on the brown velvet
of its back, brush against the nap, and again, until
it froze mid-air, eight legs outstretched, still
as a child roused from a trance of play. There
the same creature I'd raise my slipper to,
waylay across carpet to end in a smudge.
I wouldn't have it in my hand. In my hair.
Yet it - she - went to all that length to snare
mosquito and bluebottle, those who might ruin
a soup, or blood. Hours. For once I persevered,
took the time. Saw her radii complete, strung high
between window and washing line. How
a twist of cells can work such wonder, where
a poet's words don't reach. Spider just does. Reads
the angles - but not the freak impending thunder,
its blown-up swarms of birds. Everywhere. Birds
swooping for spiders. I feared something might
skim, unknowing, through that hard-earned web.
A swift perhaps, impossibly late. I saw spider
prey. Hung there, in her patch of unsafe sky.
Published in: The Spectator.
... for full story and audio, see:
Mario Petrucci has become a regular visitor to our annual Book Week celebrations. His writing workshops always bring out the best in the students, stretching the gifted and talented and offering a meaningful and accessible route for the less able, and those who are usually nervous of submitting ideas to paper. Especially valuable are his reading workshops which are innovative and exciting, and enable even reluctant readers to explore a range of challenging poetry enthusiastically and fearlessly.
Perhaps because he is a former teacher himself, Mario knows exactly how to pitch a session, so that students are engaged and interested from the start, and, perhaps, most importantly, confident enough to express their own views and to wrestle with poetry that neither patronises them nor leaves them scratching their heads. Our thanks to Mario Petrucci for making poetry real and alive. We’re already looking forward to next year!
St. Edmund’s College, Ware
I have known Mario Petrucci personally and professionally for 10 years.
I have worked particularly closely with him in the context of the Blue Nose Poetry organisation which I co-founded and which Mario joined in 1990. He quickly established himself as a vital member of the team. He brought to Blue Nose an outstanding knowledge of the contemporary poetry scene and an insightful and original style of thought with which he is able to see ways of capturing audiences and new readers. In addition, he has continued to demonstrate his own striking talents as a writer himself.
In the past two years, I have also worked with Mario in a more collaborative format - with the group ShadoWork. His commitment to discovering new ways to reach and enthuse audiences has been proven in this context too. I have also taught voice production and poetry-in-performance training courses with him as part of this group and Mario is always most effective as a teacher and leader.
Mario is a writer of stature, yet more than that he is a writer of the greatest generosity who can make things happen and who can ignite the interests of others.
I first knew Mario when I was Head of English at St Dunstan's College. Mario spent a day there working with classes in October 1998 as part of the Poetry Society's 'Poetry Places' scheme. I was so struck by his work that I went on to invite him to spend a day at The Godolphin and Latymer School where I am currently Head of English. He worked with classes, and also conducted a workshop open to both teachers and students.
I have been extremely impressed by Mario, and would have no hesitation in recommending him to any school or college. He prepares with immaculate thoroughness, and the work he does with classes is always focused, purposeful and stimulating. He thinks very carefully about his work, and carefully judges the level at which it is appropriate to pitch it. He communicates a passionate enthusiasm for poetry, and has a warm personal manner which ensures that all who meet him come away both encouraged and inspired.
His timekeeping, organisation and professionalism are faultless. We at Godolphin had no hesitation in inviting him back for another session, and we look forward to welcoming him again at the end of November 2003. I might add that the opinions expressed above are shared by my colleagues both at St Dunstan's and Godolphin.
Head of English, The Godolphin and Latymer School
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