Ken Cockburn was born in Kirkcaldy in 1960. He studied French and German at Aberdeen University, and Theatre Studies at University College Cardiff. From 1996 to 2004 he worked at the Scottish Poetry Library, as Fieldworker and Assistant Director, and since 2004 he has worked freelance as a poet, translator, editor and writing tutor.
His translations of contemporary German poetry include work by Christine Marendon, Arne Rautenberg and Thomas Rosenlöcher, some of which were collected in Feathers and Lime (2007). His translations of Rautenberg’s poems were collected in Snapdragon (2012), and Marendon’s in Heroines from Abroad (2018). He has twice received commendations in the Stephen Spender Prize for poetry in translation. Thanks to the first of these he was invited to be a Hawthornden Fellow in 2015, undertaking a four-week translation residency.
He has published three collections of poems, Souvenirs and Homelands (1998), On the flyleaf (2007) and Floating the Woods (2018). The Road North (2014) is a long poem written with Alec Finlay, which ‘translates’ Basho’s Back Roads to Far Towns from 17th century Japan to contemporary Scotland. He regularly collaborates with visual artists on book, exhibition and public art projects; publications include Ink with (~in the fields, 2011), Veined with Shadow-branches (with Andrew Mackenzie, 2014), and Gleann Badraig (with Charles March, 2018).
Other collaborations with Alec Finlay include Out of Books which followed Boswell and Johnson’s 1773 tour to the Hebrides; and there were our own there were the others, memorial walks held at National Trust properties in England & Wales to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
Ken has wide experience of running writing workshops for children and adults in a range of indoor and outdoor settings. He also runs Edinburgh Poetry Tours, guided walks with readings of poems in the city’s Old Town.