Black and white image of Michael Symmons Roberts

Poet, novelist, and librettist Michael Symmons Roberts was born in 1963 in Preston, Lancashire, and earned a degree in philosophy and theology from Oxford. He worked as a journalist before joining the BBC, eventually becoming executive producer and head of development for its department on religion and ethics. His collections of poetry include Soft Keys (1993); Raising Sparks (1999); Burning Babylon (2001); Corpus (2004), winner of the Whitbread Poetry Award; The Half Healed (2008); and Drysalter (2013). Roberts’s work has been described as both metaphysical and scientific; Jeanette Winterson described him as “a religious poet in a secular age. His work is about the connection between the things of the spirit and the things of the world.” He has also published the novels Patrick’s Alphabet (2006) and Breath (2008).
Roberts has long collaborated with the composer James MacMillan. Their opera The Sacrifice won the RPS Award for Opera in 2008. Roberts’s honors and awards include a Society of Authors Eric Gregory Award, a K Blundell Trust Award, and an Arts Council Writers Award. A trustee of the Arvon Foundation and a fellow of the English Association, he is a professor at Manchester Metropolitan University.