Photograph by Akiko DuPont
Tom Chivers is a writer, publisher and arts producer. He was born in 1983 in south London.
He has released two pamphlets of poetry, The Terrors (Nine Arches Press, 2009; shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award) and Flood Drain (Annexe Press, 2012), and two full collections, How To Build A City (Salt Publishing, 2009) and Dark Islands (Test Centre, 2015). His poems have been anthologised in Dear World & Everything In It (Bloodaxe Books, 2013), London: A History in Verse (Harvard University Press, 2012) and Poems of London (Everyman, 2021).
His non-fiction debut London Clay: Journeys in the Deep City was published in hardback by Transworld/Doubleday in September 2021. It was Audiobook of the Week in The Times. The paperback is out in June 2022.
Tom is represented by Sophie Scard at United Agents.
‘Chivers’s writing feels refreshing and necessary, a genuine, lyrical appraisal of contemporary life.’
Luke Kennard, Poetry London
Tom won an Eric Gregory Award in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Prize in 2014. He has performed at numerous events and venues including Dasein Poetry Festival, Athens; The Eden Project, Cornwall; Ledbury Poetry Festival; London Literature Festival; Moray Walking Festival; Poetry International; The Sage Gateshead; Soho Theatre and The Thames Festival.
Tom has made perambulatory, site-specific and audio work for organisations including LIFT, Cape Farewell, Humber Mouth Literature Festival, Outpost London and Southbank Centre.
He lives in Rotherhithe with his two daughters.
‘Dark London history, dredged and interrogated, spits and fizzes with corrosive wit.’
Projects and commissions
In 2008 Tom was Poet in Residence at the Bishopsgate Institute. In September 2009 Radio 4 broadcast his documentary about the poet Barry MacSweeney.
In the same year, his poem ‘The Event’ was made into an animated film by Julia Pott for Channel 4’s Random Acts.
‘Engrossing yet meditative’
Natasha Tripney, The Guardian
In 2013 Tom worked with Cape Farewell on ADRIFT – an investigation of urban landscapes. As part of this project, he devised two ‘urban pilgrimages’ – site-specific audio walks along London’s lost rivers – for Bishopsgate Institute and Southbank Centre.
‘An immersive, beautifully executed exercise in urban psychogeography.’
Sarah Lester, Wild Culture
In November 2013 he was commissioned to make a psychogeographical dream-walk up the River Hull, resulting in the long poem Flood Drain (Annexe Press, 2014).
In 2014 he co-created (with James Wilkes) The Listening Post: an immersive audio installation for LIFT Festival at Battersea Arts Centre.
In 2018 he conceived, produced and co-directed Fair Field, a major reimagining of the medieval poem Piers Plowman, and co-wrote two of its five hours of original drama. The project was subsequently featured in BBC Two’s series Art That Made Us.
- London Clay: Journeys in the Deep City, Doubleday, 2021
- Dark Islands, Test Centre, 2015
- Flood Drain, Annexe Press, 2014
- How To Build A City, Salt Publishing, 2009
- The Terrors, Nine Arches Press, 2009
- Marginalia: Ten Years of Poems & Texts from Penned in the Margins, Penned in the Margins, 2014
- Mount London: Ascents in the Vertical City, Penned in the Margins, 2014
- Adventures in Form: A Compendium of Poetic Forms, Rules & Constraints, Penned in the Margins, 2012
- Stress Fractures: Essays on Poetry, Penned in the Margins, 2010
- City State: New London Poetry, Penned in the Margins, 2009
- Generation Txt, Penned in the Margins, 2006
Tom is the founder/director of Penned in the Margins, a multi-award-winning publisher and performing arts company which joined Arts Council England’s National Portfolio in 2015.
From 2008 to 2011 he was co-director of London Word Festival, for which he commissioned and produced a wide range of productions and events, receiving a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Breakthrough Award for his work.
Tom started his career at arts consultancy the hub, and has worked with a variety of arts organisations including Free Word Centre where he was Digital Editor 2011-12. He was a Board Member of the Poetry Book Society (2009-13) and Inpress Books (2013-17).