Teacher, Lecturer, Poet & Translator
ABGS 1951 - 1959
I studied English, French and Latin in the sixth form and was taught by three exceptional and inspiring teachers, Garfield Griffiths, Peter Philips and Charles Morris. All three have proved to be guiding lights throughout my life since.
At the time I suppose that Peter Phillips was the most dominant of these influential three. My parents moved to Glannant Street in 1956, so he was then not just my teacher but a neighbour. He encouraged me to borrow collections of French poetry from his own enormous library. I will never forget his generosity. I was awarded the George Hall scholarship in 1958 and studied at a summer school in the University of Caen. Click here to read an article in the Aberdare Leader about this.
I read French at the University of Sheffield (1959 - 1964) and went into teaching, my first post being at Caistor Grammar School in Lincolnshire, where I became Head of French (1967 - 1973). I had been writing poetry and teaching classes in literature and creative writing for the W.E.A., and for the University of Hull's extramural department, so it seemed a logical thing to do when I took up a post at the Immingham School as an English teacher, becoming Head of English in 1978 until I retired from school teaching in 1990. My poems were published in various magazines, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3s ‘Poetry at Large’ and ‘The Northern Drift’, and a collection, ‘Landmarks’, came out in 1977. Until my retirement in 2007 I taught degree programmes in English and American Literature for the Universities of Humberside, Lincoln, and finally Hull.
The Latin connection is less obvious but no less important. I continued to study Latin as a subsidiary subject at university, and in the ensuing years I have found it enabled me to teach myself the neo-latin languages Italian and Spanish sufficiently well to be able to read them reasonably fluently. Certainly, without Latin as a kind of matrix I would probably have found this very difficult.
For about ten years I have been involved with the translation of French, Italian and Spanish poetry. In 2007 I was awarded The Times/Stephen Spender prize for my translations of poems by the Italian poet Attilio Betolucci (click here to read the Times Online report - n.b. there is no longer free access to this website). In 2010, ‘Modern Poetry in Translation’ (founded by Ted Hughes and Daniel Weissbort in 1965) published my translations of Rocco Scotellaro in its first single-author collection: it was launched at the Aldeburgh International Poetry Festival and then in London at the London Review of Books in Bloomsbury in 2010.
So the three academic interests fostered in me by the Griffiths/Phillips/Morris triumvirate have sustained me over more than fifty years, and continue to do so. Words are inadequate to express my gratitude to them.
I have been married to Rhieta, whom I met at university, since 1966, and we live in the village of Healing in North East Lincolnshire. We have two children, Michael and Sian. Mike teaches English at Loreto Sixth-form College in Manchester, and Sian works for Mencap in Leeds. The picture shows me on holiday in Bar Harbor, Maine.
There’s a collection of short videos of Allen reading his
poems and translations on YouTube.
To view them click here