Born near London in 1941, I went to Leighton Park School, Queens’ College, Cambridge and the University of Leicester.

Between 1966 and 1971 I worked in secondary schools, mainly in the East End of London, then for three years taught literature and creative writing at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.

In 1973 I visited Alaska where I worked at the Alaska State Museum devising education materials for rural schools. From there I made my first trip to the village of Point Hope on the northwest Arctic coast.

Between 1981 and 1990, pursuing an interest in Buddhist literature and thought, I studied Sanskrit and Pali at Cambridge, SOAS and the University of Washington.

My work over the past thirty years has included poetry, Inupiaq (north Alaskan Eskimo)  ethnography based on research in Point Hope (1973-1988 ) and books related to Buddhism.

In 1986, I settled in London where I continue to write and teach.



Our After-fate, Softy Loudly Books, 1971
Eskimo Poems from Canada and Greenland (translation), Allison & Busby, University of Pittsburgh Press 1973
The Death of Mrs Owl, Anvil Press, London, 1975
Booster – A Game of Divination, Many Press, 1975
La Tempesta’s X-ray, Many Press, London 1988
Filibustering in Samsara, Many Press, 1987
Ancient Land:Sacred Whale, Bloomsbury, Farrar Strauss and Giroux, Harvill Press.
Ancestors and Species, Shearsman Books, September 2005
Conversation with Murasaki, Shearsman Books, 2009

From Culbone Wood – in Xanadu: Notebooks and Fanasias,  Shearsman, 2013

Writings on Northwest Alaska

Stories from Point Hope, Alaska State Museum, Juneau, 1973
Sea Ice Subsistence at Point Hope, Alaska, North Slope Borough, 1980
The Shaman Aningatchaq, translation & commentary, Many Press, London, 1982
The Things that were Said of Them: oral histories from Point Hope, University of California Press & Douglas & McIntyre 1990
Ancient Land:Sacred Whale, prose and poetry, Bloomsbury, Harvill, Farrar Strauss & Giroux, 1993 and 2001
Ultimate Americans: Point Hope, Alaska 1826-1909, University of Alaska Press, 2009


The Vision of the Buddha, Duncan Baird Publishers /Macmillan, 1996
Treasures of the Buddha, 2006 Duncan Baird Publishers
Classic Haiku, Duncan Baird Publishers, 2007


BBC Radio 3: An Eskimo Storyteller, 1979)
Ancient Land:Sacred Whale, 1990
Radio 4: Voices in the Cold Wind, 1994
U.S. National Public Radio: Inupiaq Storytelling (tweve programmes funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, 1981
Twelve Programmes, second series, also funded by the National Foundation for the Arts, 1984).

Music Collaborations

Sun, Moon and Women Shouting, 1999
Text for fifteen minute choral work by Ed Hughes, commissioned by I Fagiolini Performances at Bromsgrove Contemporary Music Festival, Christ Church Spitalfields, Cathedral, Tromso, Norway, 2001. Broadcast on BBC Radio 3

The Sybil of Cumae, 2001

Text for twenty minute piece for soprano and cmaber ensemble by Ed Hughes, commissioned by Brighton Festival and performed at Purcell Room and on BBC Radio 3.

Companion of Angels: libretto for oratorio on the lives of William and Catherine Blake for Rachel Stott. Performed at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and St Mary’s Church, Felpham. 2007

Writing and research has been funded, over the years, by the following institutions:

Northwestern University, Nuffield Foundation (four times), Society of Authors (three times), British Academy, National Endowment for the Arts (twice), John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Leverhulme Foundation, Arctic Institute of North America, The American Philosophical Society, Alaska Humanities Forum, North Slope Borough (Alaska).