Former Press and Gazette & Herald journalist James Kilner has just published his first volume of poetry. He spoke to STEPHEN LEWIS.

WHO said journalists don't have poetry in their souls? If you believe that, try reading this, from former reporter James Kilner's first published volume of poetry, Frequencies of Light:

“At midday in Micklegate
“I clocked you, stepping lightly
“from a bus to the shining street.

“In Fossgate I found you
“cross-legged, head bowed, raindrops
“dripping from the end of your nose.

“In Grape Lane, you poured wine
“from a carafe. In Navigation Road,
“you kept your eyes on your map.

“A shot of mercury, your presence 
“moves through me, until you return
“to the shape of a shopper,

“a student, a beggar, a thief.
“Like one bereaved, I confront
“your likeness in every street.”


Those words will echo with anyone who has ever lost or missed a loved one and, with a momentary leaping of the heart, sees their face or familiar outline in the shape of someone in the street, only to be disappointed.

The poems in Frequencies Of Light have taken James ten years to write. Many have been published before in magazines, but this is the first time they have been collected together.

James, 38, worked as a reporter on The Press and then as a features writer and deputy editor of the Gazette and Herald.

He left the Gazette in 2006 to do a PhD on the poetry of Ted Hughes. The former St Peters and York College student now lives in Tyneside with his wife Sarah and two children, where he works for a PR company specialising in the arts.

Many of the poems are inspired by his native north of England and often have an elegiac tone. They are poems of loss and grief, as in Transfusion, in which the narrator pleads to be allowed to take into himself the sickness which is afflicting a loved one.

"Let your illness leak into me and leave you," he says. "Contaminate me, darling."

Others are full of the pain of separation and loss, as in those lines above. None of which means that he himself has experienced personal loss or tragedy, the happily married James admits. "It doesn't represent a real break-up in my life."

Instead, what he has done is take moments – a brief separation because of a business trip; a friend's illness – and imagined his way into them, imagined how he'd feel if they were more intense and personal to him. The resulting poems are no less powerful, no less true, for that.

And that title? The poems are "grouped together in terms of the colours that their moods and emotions evoke within my mind," he says. "I should have been an artist, but I was never good enough.”

Frequencies of Light is published by Lapwing, priced £10. You can find out more about the book at