Jim Burch was born in Woolwich and lived there and in various other parts of South London for 36 years, before moving, with his family, to the South Cambridgeshire village of Gt Chishill where they lived for the next 32 years.
Aged 10 at the outbreak of WW2 he was several times an evacuee, but spent most of the war years in London. His 2 years National Service were in the RAMC. After a variety of manual and clerical jobs and as a laboratory technician, he became a school teacher, lecturer and educational psychologist.
In 1997 he and his wife, Thea, moved to Downham Market, Norfolk, where, two years later, Thea died.
His first volume, After October, contained 70 poems devoted entirely to the memory of his wife. They dealt with their progress through married life, her illness and death, and his reactions to that loss.
Bereavement he discovered was not a simple, single emotional state, but a bewildering range of powerful, disparate emotions and thoughts, as was revealed in the 50 poems that made up the second, longer part of that book. This territory is explored further in the middle section of this, his second volume.
Feast and Famine is in 3 sections, each containing over 20 poems. The first section, Some Early Poems, is a varied selection from poems written mainly many years ago. The middle section, More About Thea, continues the honest, searching portrayals of love and loss begun in the earlier book. Whilst some of these poems are almost unbearably painful to read, there are also many touches of humour, surprised self-discovery and resignation. The final section, Other Recent Poems, provides clear evidence that, though the author expects, as he says in his introduction, to go on writing about Thea for as long as he goes on writing poems, he is also capable of bringing his poetic gifts to bear on an impressively wide range of other themes.
Jim Burch has written several short plays and film scripts and many children's poems and stories. He has recently published the illustrated children's books, Johnny Went to Africa and I like.... Others are in preparation.
To read the poem, "Who Loves You Baby?", from this anthology, click here.
Readers' Review Magazine, spring 2006
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