- c.1900s - 2016 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
Michael Henry was born in Liverpool in 1942, both his parents were doctors. Three years later his father got an orthopaedic consultant’s post and the family moved to Cheltenham. Michael Henry was educated at Dean Close Junior School and at Cheltenham College, from where he went on to read Modern Languages (German and French) at The Queen’s College, Oxford. Here, he met and married a fellow modern linguist, June Parrott. After a brief stint in Personnel Management in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Michael Henry got a teaching job in Saskatchewan and he and his wife and small daughter moved to Canada.
Two more daughters were born in Canada, the younger one in Edmonton, Alberta where the family lived for eleven years. Michael Henry’s first literary success was an honourable mention for a poem in the Edmonton Journal Literary Competition. Three years later he won second prize in the same competition. While in Canada he published poems in magazines such as: Waves, Quarry, Event, The Antigonish Review and Canadian Author & Bookman. Selections of his poems were aired on the CBC in 1979 and 1980.
Michael Henry’s first wife died of cancer and he brought his family back to Cheltenham in 1980. He had read about the Arvon courses while in Canada and on one of these in Totleigh Barton, he met writer/artist Tricia Torrington, who became his second wife and a valuable support and critic of his poetry. In 1985 he published a pamphlet ‘Lenten Visitor’, which caught the eye of the publisher of Enitharmon Press. With Enitharmon he published ‘An Ocean in My Ear’ (1988), ‘Panto Sphinx’ (1991), ‘Footnote to History’ (2001) and ‘After the Dancing Dogs’ (2008). His fifth collection, ‘Bureau of the Lost and Found’ (2014) was published by Five Seasons Press.
Michael Henry’s poems have appeared in many magazines including Poetry Review, The North, Acumen, Magma, Tears in the Fence, the Warwick Review and the Interpreter’s House. He has been Poet in Profile and had poems published in Orbis and South. He has also been a regular contributor to Time Haiku. His poems appeared in ‘Light Unlocked’ Christmas Card Poems (Enitharmon 2005), ‘Building Jerusalem’ Elegies on Parish Churches (Bloomsbury 2016) and a Canadian anthology ‘Writing the Terrain’ Travelling through Alberta with the Poets (University of Calgary Press 2005).
In 1989 he was awarded a four-week Hawthornden Fellowship and in 1999 he had a poem commended in the National Poetry Competition. He was also a runner-up twice in the Peterloo Open Poetry Competition (2001 and 2004) and in the Bridport Prize (1993). He came 2nd in the Bedford Open Competition (2006), 1st in the Ware Open Poetry Competition (2007) and 3rd in the Poetry London Competition (2010). In 2011 he won 1st prize for a medical poem in the Hippocrates Prize Open Competition and was short-listed in the 2015 Montreal International Poetry Prize.
Michael Henry and Tricia Torrington are currently reworking and adding to a 1986 pamphlet of theirs ‘Rubin’s Figure’, in which they both write complementary poems on the same or a similar topic.