Born in London to Jewish immigrants, Jon Silkin lived in London until World War II, when he was evacuated to Wales. He studied at Wycliffe College and Dulwich College. Silkin is the author of over 30 poetry collections and translations, including The Peaceable Kingdom (1954), The Two Freedoms (1958), The Re-Ordering of the Stones (1961), Nature With Man (1965), winner of the Faber Memorial Prize, and Watersmeet (1994). Silkin’s poems often focus on his Jewish identity, a sense of dislocation, and the divide between humankind and nature.
Silkin edited anthologies of poetry written in response to World War I, including Out of Battle (1978) and The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry (1979). In 1952, Silkin founded the magazine Stand, which he edited, except for the magazine’s three-year break, until his death. Silkin received four Gregory Fellowships from the University of Leeds and taught or held residencies at the University of Leeds, University of Tsukuba, Denison University, the University of Iowa, the Aylestone School, and elsewhere.