James Aitchison 1938-2023

Worple Press is greatly saddened to learn of the death of James Aitchison on June 16th, 2023. We were immensely proud to publish ‘Foraging: New and Selected Poems’ in 2009, a weighty and invaluable gathering of James’ poetry from the mid 1970s onwards.

James became a friend and a regular correspondent; we exchanged letters and cards that revealed both his generosity of spirit and his critical acumen. The latter was unsurprising given the range and depth of his knowledge as revealed in his work on Edwin Muir, David Jones and contributions to journals such as ‘The Dark Horse’ and ‘Agenda’.

His work was favourably reviewed by luminaries such as Elizabeth Jennings, Edna Longley and Robert Nye, but it is Richard Price’s observation for ‘PN Review’ that best captures both man and poet: ‘with James Aitchison, there is always a sense of an intelligent and kindly interlocutor’.

The cover of ‘Foraging’ featured an image of rock cress by one of our favourite artists and architects, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: ‘Aubretia, Walberswick 1914’. Its close attention to the natural world and distinctive control of line and form characterised James’ poetry. Here are the last two lines from his sonnet ‘Stars’:

And when a star  burns out it shines for years,

Light years, before its starlight disappears.


We send on our condolences to Norma, Nick, Cara and the rest of his family.

Peter and Amanda Carpenter