John Agard

Born: 21st June 1949

Birth Place: Guyana

Known for: Being a playwright, poet, and children’s writer.

He wrote a poem about Black history called “Checking out Me History”

He was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2012.

He was Poet-in-Residence at the National Maritime Museum in 2008.

Humour breaks down boundaries, it topples our self-importance, it connects people, and because it engages and entertains, it ultimately enlightens.

John Agard

Life story


Love for language


John Agard realised that he had a love for language after listening to cricket commentator, John Arlott, on the radio, in Georgetown, Guyana. Agard created his own cricket commentaries at home, just for fun. His love for language led him to study English, French, and Latin in the sixth form at his school and it was also at this time that he wrote his first poem.


After completing college, Agard went on to teach the very subjects he had studied. After that, he worked as a writer at the Guyana Sunday Chronicle.


Later life


Later, in 1977, Agard left Guyana and travelled to Britain. The following year he worked for the Commonwealth Institute. For the next seven years he visited over two thousand schools across the United Kingdom, holding workshops, giving talks, and speaking about his life in the Caribbean.


Agard has been awarded many prizes for his books, which were always imaginative and entertaining, but also challenged people to think in a different way. He has been described as Puckish (from Puck a character in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream). This reflects his playfully mischievous personality. He is also described as having an imagination that is ‘deeply Caribbean.’


Agard is married to the Poet, Grace Nichols, and they have worked together on many books of poetry.

What was the significance of John listening to cricket commentator John Arlott? Describe how John fits the description ‘Puckish’. What was the significance of John speaking at all the different schools?

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