Jim Burns

Jim Burns was born in Preston in 1936 and now lives near Stockport. He left school at sixteen and went to work in a cotton mill. He spent three years in the army, and later worked at various jobs while at the same time publishing poems, stories, articles, and reviews in New Society, The Guardian, New Statesman, Jazz Journal, Jazz Monthly, Evergreen Review, Transatlantic Review, and many other publications.

He was a regular contributor to Tribune for over 30 years and has contributed to Ambit since the early 1960’s. He is currently the assistant editor of Beat Scene. In the 1960’s he edited the little magazine, Move, and he was editor of Palantir (1976 to 1983). Before retiring he taught adult education classes for the WEA and Manchester University Extension Studies.

A collection of reviews and essays, Beats, Bohemians and Intellectuals, was published by Trent Books in 2000 and Laying Something Down: Poems 1962-2007 by Shoestring Press in 2007.

“Jim Burns seems to have embarked on his poetic journey with a voice fully formed. His easy conversational style, similar to Bukowski or Carver perhaps, but with an apparently limitless imagination and energy, evokes his own concerns: political impacts, Northern experiences, unions, jazz, romance and his unique and sometimes quirky view of the world.”

“Changes of tone can ambush the reader within a single poem. Gravity and playfulness can trade places over the few lines of terse lyric. Always, however, there is his ground-tone: an attitude to the world that blends fascination with knowingness. Burns’ speakers are unillusioned without being cynical, romantic without getting lost in the stars.”
Other Poetry

“As you read, you get a sense of how the world that made him has changed. Some of the poems tell of how he wanted it to change, even to play a small part in changing it, but it has changed in ways which make him as wryly suspicious as ever of those in charge… Yet the marvellous feeling you take away from Laying Something Down is that he never lost either his sense of perspective or humour.”
The Penniless Press

“Burns celebrates the north, the unions and the less privileged of the Two Nations. He is humane, randy, and highly skilled.”

Peter Porter, The Observer

“Jim Burns is a poet whose laconic style sprang from his love of a certain American mode. One of England’s leading enthusiasts on beat writing, on jazz of the forties, and on Hollywood film noir.”

Jeff  Nuttall, The Guardian

“He is very droll, anecdotal, northern, unfoolable.”

Anthony Tate, The Sunday Telegraph

“He is a poet, editor (of Move and Palantir, two fantastically influential and important magazines of the last three decades), and perhaps most importantly, a reviewer and essayist chronicling the margins of literature: the forgotten poets, the outside influences, the one-novel novelists, the figures who clambered to the edge of the public eye for a brief second and then fell off.”

Ian Macmillan, Poetry Review

Books by Shoestring Press:

Laying Something Down