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John Agard

Born (1949-06-21) 21 June 1949 (age 73)
Grantham, British Guiana
Language Patois
Nationality British
Education St Alban's Academy
Period 20th century
Notable awards Paul Hamlyn Award for Poetry (1997); Cholmondeley Award (2004); Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry (2012)
Spouse Grace Nichols

John Agard FRSL (born 21 June 1949 in British Guiana) is an Afro-Guyanese playwright, poet and children's writer, now living in Britain. In 2012, he was selected for the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. He was awarded BookTrust's Lifetime Achievement Award in November 2021.


Agard grew up in Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana). He loved to listen to cricket commentary on the radio and began making up his own, which led to a love of language. He went on to study English, French and Latin at A-Level, writing his first published poetry when he was in sixth-form, and left school in 1967. He taught the languages he had studied and worked in a local library. He was also a sub-editor and feature writer for the Guyana Sunday Chronicle, publishing two books while he was still in Guyana.

His father (Ted) settled in London and Agard moved to Britain with his partner Grace Nichols in 1977, settling in Ironbridge, Shropshire. He worked for the Commonwealth Institute and the BBC in London.

His awards included the 1997 Paul Hamlyn Award for Poetry, the Cholmondeley Award in 2004 and the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2012. In November 2021 he became the first poet to be awarded BookTrust's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Agard was poet-in-residence at the National Maritime Museum in 2008. His poems "Half Caste" and "Checking Out Me History" have been featured in the AQA English GCSE anthology since 2002, meaning that many students (aged 13–16) have studied his work for their GCSE English qualifications.

Archival literary records consisting of "letters and proofs relating to the published poetry works of John Agard" are held at Newcastle University Special Collections, in the Bloodaxe Books Archive.

Agard lives in Lewes, East Sussex, with his partner, the Guyanese poet Grace Nichols.


  • Casa de las Américas Prize (Cuba) for Man to Pan
  • 1987: Nestlé Smarties Book Prize (shortlist) for Lend Me Your Wings
  • 1995: Nestlé Smarties Book Prize (Bronze Award) (6–8 years category) for We Animals Would Like a Word With You
  • 1997: Paul Hamlyn Award for Poetry
  • 2004: Cholmondeley Award
  • 2007: British Book Awards Decibel Writer of the Year (shortlist) for We Brits
  • 2007: Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature
  • 2009: Centre for Literacy in Primary Education poetry award for The Young Inferno.
  • 2012: Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry
  • 2021: BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award
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