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Ken Cockburn is a poet, poetry translator from German and an editor. He was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, in 1960. He studied French and German at Aberdeen University, and Theatre Studies at University College Cardiff. In January 2008 he was awarded the Arts Foundation Fellowship for Literary Translation for his poetry translations from German to English.
His translations of contemporary German-language poets Arne Rautenberg, Tina Stroheker and Rudolf Bussman have been published in magazines including Modern Poetry in Translation and Chapman, and in Banipal 32 are his translations of Syrian poet Adel Karasholi, who writes in German. His translations of poems by Thomas Brausch are included in Feathers and Lime, a collection of some of his translations of contemporary German poets, published by The Caseroom Press, 2007.
The first collection of his own poems Souvenirs and Homelands was shortlisted for a Saltire Award in 1998, his second collection On the Flyleaf by Luath Press in 2007. His poems have been published in translation in French, German, Hungarian and Slovakian, as well as in anthologies Love for Love (2000) and Dream State (2nd edn, 2002).
From 1996 to 2004 he worked at the Scottish Poetry Library, first as Fieldworker, visiting schools and writers’ groups throughout Scotland, and then as Assistant Director. One of the Library’s events, with a bilingual German-English publication M/Other Tongues, was a collaboration with the Goethe Institut in Glasgow that brought together two German-language poets, Adel Karasholi and Dragica Rajcic, whose mother tongue was not German, with two Scottish poet-translators of equally varied backgrounds, Suhayl Saadi and Christopher Whyte.
With Alec Finlay Ken Cockburn established and ran Pocketbooks, an award-winning series of books of poetry and visual art (1999-2002), and was subsequently a director of Platform Projects, its successor company. Since 2004 he has worked as a freelance writer, translator, editor and writing tutor. He has also worked on various anthologies, including, for the SPL, the CD The Jewel Box (2000) and Intimate Expanses: XXV poems from Scotland, 1978-2002 (2004). For Pocketbooks he edited The Order of Things: an anthology of Scottish sound, pattern and concrete poems (2001), and for Platform Projects he edited Tweed Rivers: new writing and art inspired by the rivers of the Tweed catchment (2005).