Malcolm Guite has called himself a “poet, priest, rock & roller: in any order you like, really.” It’s a succinct way to describe an otherwise indescribable character: a bearded bard from some other realm full of Tolkien-esque polymaths, and currently a lecturer and chaplain of the Divinity Faculty at Cambridge.
Guite is a generous interviewee, so full of words that he often runs breathless finishing his sentences (he’s somehow both intimidatingly sharp and amiably approachable at the same time); which makes his many interviews a good way to get acquainted with his style and process. We’d recommend his series of interviews with The Cultivating Project, this in-depth profile, or his appearance on Nomad Podcast, at Greenbelt.
Guite’s work, of course, is as thoughtful and thorough as his conversations, embracing the confrontations, confusions and mysticisms of faith. It hums with a deep belief in the goodness of poetry itself: poetry as a life-giving force, and as a means to give people confidence that their ‘inner’, spiritual lives are as real and revelatory as the material world.
It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to his poetry and the rest, but let’s be contrary and begin with some of the most recent: Parable and Paradox, a book of poetry inspired by the sayings of Jesus; and a biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, called Mariner. But as an even simpler starting point, try reading this sonnet for our times, called The six days world transposing in an hour.