James Harold Kirkup was born on \(23\) April \(1918\) in England, United Kingdom. He was an English poet, playwright, translator and travel writer. He attended the Westoe Secondary School and later took up a course on Modern languages at King's College, Durham University. He later worked as an agricultural labourer during the Second World War. He also tried his hands in teaching, but it was an unsuccessful attempt. He started writing only in the later period of his life. He started with poetry in the later year of \(1940\). He wrote extensively on simple things in life and shunned the extravaganza of life. His language was characterised by a new precision and was soon acclaimed. The Oxford University Press, which was the most established press of the times, published his first poetry collection, 'The Submerged Village and Other Poems'. It was a huge hit that the same press published around five of his next volumes.
Kirkup was a member of the Royal Society of Literature (RSL). The RSL was a learned society founded in \(1820\) by King George IV to represent the voice of literature, with around \(600\) fellows selected from among the best writers. Kirkup was chosen for his contribution to the advancement of literature in \(1962\). He wrote under numerous pen names such as James Falconer, Aditya Jha, Jun Honda, Andrew James, Taeko Kawai, Felix Liston, Edward Raeburn, and Ivy B. Summerfores.
Kirkup became a Professor in English at Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan, in \(1959\). He then taught at the Kyoto University of Foreign Languages for \(10\) years until his retirement in \(1988\). He adapted the Japanese forms of art and literature very easily. He explored the Haiku and the Tanka forms of poetry. A Haiku is a short form of poetry with three lines. A Tanka is a thirty-one syllable poem with an unbreakable line. His book 'Pikadon' even covered exclusively on the Hiroshima and Nagasaki incident, with a detailed focus on the historical analysis. He was a translator who translated Japanese works on haikus and other forms into English. He also did French translations and has made several contributions by translating the greatest French prose works. He also wrote several travel books in which he covered Japan and Phillippine Islands.
Important works by James Kirkup:
- The Drowned Sailor
- A Spring Journey and Other Poems
- The Descent into the Cave and Other Poems
- The Caged Bird in Springtime
- True Mystery of the Nativity
- The Only Child: An Autobiography of Infancy
- These horned islands: a journal of Japan