The Great Fogginzo


John Foggin, The Great Fogginzo, The FogFather … is an award winning poet, teacher and Rugby League fan who lives in Ossett.

We’ve known about John for a long time, Ralph met him at a Poetry Business workshop in Sheffield quite a few years ago and we’ve heard John read at poetry events in and around Yorkshire. But as is often the case, you know you know about someone, you know they vaguely move in the same circles as you, but you seldom meet, you’re always dancing around one another. John’s is a name that crops up a lot ‘You publish poetry books, you’re in Ossett? you MUST know John Foggin?’ … ‘You’re promoting a poetry tour? you MUST know John Foggin’ … but still we danced.

Then in August of this year, flashing across all our poetry networks was news that a poet from Ossett had won the Mclellan Poetry Prize … it’s that Foggin fella again!!! We found John’s webpage, started to read, not only his his work beautiful but he had indeed been awarded first prize by judge Simon Armitage. He’s also winner of the Lumen Camden Poetry Competition 2014 judged by Andrew Motion … and his poem ‘Camera Obscura’ was Highly Commended in the Forward Prize for Poetry.  These my friends are true accolades.

What we like about John is his sense of humour. His nicknames The Great Fogginzo and the FogFather belie a man who doesn’t take himself too seriously but he does take his work as a writer very seriously … as research for this article we started reading John’s blog and could have stayed there all day, he is a man of varied interests and talents and we are loudly proclaiming him as an #OssettOriginal.

You can find out more about John, his work as a  writer, his love for Scotland and his beloved Batley Bulldogs at  The Great Fogginzo’s Cobweb … you can also read some of his poems.

Here’s one of John’s we really like.

Larach – John Foggin

On O.S. maps, the Gaelic
for a place that isn’t anymore.
The ghost of a place.

Like that road in Spain; a hot night wind,
the churring of cicadas.  Cactus;
salt in the air.

The little white-harled place, somewhere
in the Borders, prim and discreet
as a cough in a chapel.

Cut-down oil-drum drinking troughs
in roadside dust.  Goatbells,
olives, stone.  That place.

And where the stag stood in the yellow
of the headlight, the dark swirl
of blown snow.  There.

Or one grey dawn where
a flurry of buzzards flapped off
a sop of a sheep in the turf cut.

Larach.  A pibroch for places
passed by, passed over;
for the ache of forgetting
or not forgetting.

We use these little biogs to try and bring you stories of people doing great things in our town, usually,  but not exclusively in the creative industries. We hope that the successes of people living and working in Ossett will inspire others to take up writing, painting, singing, drawing, knitting, making music, generally expressing themselves through the creative arts.

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