Born in London, poet Josephine Dickinson has been deaf since the age of six as a result of a childhood illness. She studied classics at Oxford University and went on to establish a career as a musician, composer, and poet. In her late 30s she relocated to Alston, a remote English Cumbrian town, where she met and married an elderly sheep farmer, Douglas Dickinson, who died in 2004.
Her poems, rich in natural imagery, are sometimes metered or rhymed, but always attentive to sound in their tender evocations of rural life. As New York Times Book Review critic James Longenbach noted in a review of Silence Fell, “Her acute relationship to the physical sensation of language distinguishes these humble, deftly made poems.” In a 2007 interview with the Times (London), Dickinson stated, “I do know that I found speech more difficult than music to cope with after the deafness. I came to see the written word as a liberation, which was wonderful. Very exotic and exciting.”
Dickinson’s collections of poetry include Scarberry Hill (2001), The Voice (2004), and Night Journey (2008). Silence Fell (2007) contains a selection of poems from her first two books and is Dickinson’s first American publication, with an introduction by poet Galway Kinnell.
Dickinson continues to tend her late husband’s sheep farm.