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'One of the most prolific, versatile and, at his best, penetrating of our poets.' - Magma 30


For interviews with Mario Petrucci, click here.

Mario's biography is complex, to say the least. Originally a Natural Sciences graduate, he moved into freelance writing after a stint in science teaching, a PhD in optoelectronics at UCL, organic farming / goat-herding in Ireland, and a further BA in Environmental Studies at Middlesex University. He was inaugural Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes University and (later) the Fellow at Westminster and Brunel Universities. Most recently, he became RLF Fellow at the City and Guilds of London Art School.

Mario's poetry performances attract international recognition (e.g., with the British Council and Poetry International). Often sumptuous and lyrically contemplative, his earliest work frequented the themes of nature, family, and childhood memories of London and Italy; but he delighted, too, in performance-driven humour and political satire. Enduring concerns in his oeuvre include: in-depth literary interaction with key cultural sites; consciousness/metaphysics; his immigrant family, with its psychological and actual bereavements; love/unlove; the realities of warfare; science and the insights of quantum physics; the natural world, and ecology stressed. Mario has received many awards for this work. Between 1991 and 2005, he was outright winner in 22 national and international open poetry competitions. He won the London Writers Competition a record four times, and was recipient of the 2002 Arvon/ Daily Telegraph International Poetry Prize (for his Chernobyl poem, source text for an award-winning poetry film by Seventh Art Productions). Notably, he was commissioned to write Tales from the Bridge, perhaps the world's largest 3D poetry soundscape: spanning London's Millennium Bridge for the 2012 Olympics, this was shortlisted for the coveted Ted Hughes Award.

For all his distinctiveness, Mario is no writer of singular or habitual voice. The Warwick Review notes "the extraordinary variety of this poet: his scientific and political commitments, his sharply physical response to the world of the senses, his unsentimental embrace of facts of life and behaviour". Prolific to say the least, his style and forms have enjoyed frequent ongoing shifts, driven by his evolutionary modernist instincts. This gave rise (after mid-2005) to his immense i tulips project, a key undertaking of 1111 poems, terminating in a 1111-line coda in 11 sections. Praised by the Poetry Book Society as "a truly ambitious landmark body of work" (PBS Bulletin) and endorsed by doyen Roy Fisher, i tulips not only lays claim to being one of the longest sequences ever composed, but also stimulates British prosody at a crucial juncture with a distinctively plural, sonically charged source of imagery moulded into a freshly-minted family of strikingly visual, undulating forms (chiefly what the author terms 'bevelled tercets'); this irresistibly dynamic magnum opus challenges English-speaking poetics to engage with its "energetic fusion of American and British modernism" (Poetry International).

In 2003, Mario became the Poetry Book Society's first pamphlet selector (joined by Sian Hughes), responsible for early detection of such poets as Daljit Nagra and Frances Leviston. A former chair of the Royal Literary Fund's Advisory Fellowship, with a significant history as a radio/tv broadcaster, he now works as an educator and creative writing tutor. Co-founder of writers inc., he has taught widely in adult contexts and in schools, lecturing at the Imperial War Museum and much in demand as a visiting specialist in war poetry and the curriculum. His poetry, short stories, articles and essays often overlap creativity, politics, science, ecology, and spirituality. He has engendered a host of resources linking the humanities and the sciences, not least in film and video (e.g., at the Natural History Museum), or through science-writing projects and commissions (e.g., at the Southbank Library), or via his ingenious resource pack Creative Writing <--> Science. He is a voice and performance mentor; the collaborative poetry group he co-founded, ShadoWork, swept the board in terms of awards, providing voice-training seminars and acclaimed performances across the UK. Diorama developed that impetus into experimental online multi-vocal and multimedia contexts for poetry. Among Mario's newest ventures is Writing Into Freedom, a free resource-centred website and its sister YouTube channel; together, these supply an audiovisual feast of creative writing guidance, exposition and good practice.

'Imaginative, sophisticated and effortlessly masterful... draws on the nature of raw experience
and revives it in an incredibly accurate, poignant way.'
- Cambridge Student

Mario has published numerous poetry books and pamphlets, including: Shrapnel and Sheets, Bosco, Heavy Water, Half Life, Fearnought (poems for Southwell Workhouse), along with translations of Catullus, Sappho, and an acclaimed Bloodaxe edition of Hafez's ghazals. His version of Eugenio Montale's Xenia won a PEN Translates award and was shortlisted for the John Florio Prize (a prize he was later invited to co-judge, by the Society of Authors in 2022). His groundbreaking version of the sacred Hindu text, Isha Upanishad, sold out soon after publication. Lepidoptera is a hybrid book of long poetry and short prose, while his illustrated poetry collection The Stamina of Sheep (the unique result of an ambitious public/educational arts project for Havering, the Thames and Essex) captured the Essex Book Award for Best Fiction Publication 2000-2002, an unprecedented result for poetry in essentially a prose category. Flowers of Sulphur was published in 2007, i tulips in 2010, and his shattering afterlove in 2020. From his north London base, Mario is currently working on several collections, including Monte Cassino.

Black Mountains / Rare Flowers : A New Track for Poetry?     'Reminiscent of e.e. cummings at his best', Mario Petrucci has generated an immense body of work that is 'vivid, generous and life-affirming' (Envoi).   Inspired by Black Mountain, his innovative poems embrace contemporary issues of searing social and personal relevance, but their chief characteristic is humanity, a profound ability to move us.   From the intimacies of love and loss, via the tragedy of Chernobyl, to i tulips with its 'modernist marvels' (Poetry Book Society), Petrucci promises no less than 'Poetry on a geological scale… a new track for poets of witness' (Verse).
[Wenlock Poetry Festival, 2011]

'The STAR of the festival for me - and anyone else (friends and strangers) I spoke to afterwards...
Packed out, extra chairs, so intelligent, fabulously throwing himself in to the performance. WOW !!!!!!'

[participant feedback, 2011]

SUMMARY    [write-up for events/ readings]

Mario Petrucci is a metaphysical and modernist poet of international standing, an ecologist, and PhD physicist. He is the only poet to have been resident at the Imperial War Museum and with BBC Radio 3, and has received major literary prizes across the board (National Poetry Competition (3rd); four times winner of the London Writers competition; Bridport Prize (winner); New London Writers Award). His book-length poem on Chernobyl, Heavy Water (Enitharmon 2004), captured the prestigious Arvon Prize for poetry and forms the backbone of a powerful award-winning film (Seventh Art Productions). His other volumes include Flowers of Sulphur (2007), i tulips (2010) and the waltz in my blood (2011). He has devised numerous courses for the Poetry School, the Poetry Society’s Poetryclass initiative, and Arvon/Foyle Young Poets. Mario is something of a frontiersman in creative writing projects in the public domain, and is a major exponent of site-specific poetry: he has engaged successfully with a multitude of prominent cultural institutions, including the various Imperial War Museum sites, delivering commissioned poems, books, and groundbreaking writing packs that tie into science (The Royal Society; the Royal Literary Fund) and ecology (Poetry Society). His remarkable poetry soundscape Tales from the Bridge was a centrepiece of the capital's 2012 Cultural Olympiad; with an estimated 4 million listeners, it was shortlisted for the 2012 Ted Hughes Award for New Poetry. Mario lives in north London.  

For a supplementary CV, click here




High resolution image [300 dpi]

[credit: Barry Hobson 2011]



[Near right / middle right]

Bust by Graham High (2013)

[clay work in progress / finished bronze]

copyright - Graham High: by kind permission


[Far right]

Mario, aged 4 yrs



copyright mario petrucci 2001