Sharon Black is a poet and editor from Glasgow. Though she now lives in the south of France she remains an active voice in the UK poetry community through publication of her own work and through her editorship of Pindrop Press.
Black was born and brought up in Newton Mearns in Greater Glasgow. She studied French at the University of Aberdeen, after which she spent a year working as an English teacher in Japan. On returning to the UK Black began a decade-long career as a journalist; as a features writer at the Centre Press agency in Glasgow she wrote for newspapers including The Evening Times, The Herald and The Scotsman. Since 2001 Black has lived in the Cévennes region of Southern France, where she runs Abri Creative Writing, a retreat venue offering residential courses tailored to writers. In 2016 Black took over the editorship of Pindrop Press from poet Jo Hemmant, with the stated aim of publishing poetry that is “exciting, well-crafted and fresh.”
Black became active as a poet in 2009, after her youngest child started attending school. She has spoken in interview of a personal need for solitude and silence when writing and of the impact on her work of writing retreats on the Scottish island of Iona. She cites classical French influences on her work in Voltaire, Hugo, Verlaine, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and English influences in the conversational styles of Billy Collins and Roger McGough.
To Know Bedrock (Pindrop Press, 2011) features a poem sequence, ‘Chinks,’ in which Black reflects on her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. This sequence speaks to wider themes of bodily experience in her work, such as in Rib (Wayleave Press, 2021), a collection of 24 poems exploring the titular body part (24 being the number of ribs in the human body). Another poem sequence, ‘Spring Fever,’ portraying the ebb and flow of a heated affair, centres The Art of Egg (Pindrop Press, 2019) and highlights the sensuality underpinning this interest in the body.
As well as the human in both the physical and philosophical sense, the natural environment is a consistent presence in Black’s poetry, either through reference to her home in the Cévennes mountains or to places further afield such as Morocco (‘Travelling the Dadès Valley,’ ‘Love Note, Erg Chebbi’), and the highlands and islands of Scotland (‘On Staffin Beach,’ ‘Crossing the Lecht’).
Black is a prolific writer and has been published widely in journals and periodicals including Acumen, Agenda, Gutter, Magma, Poetry Ireland Review, The Moth, Mslexia and The Rialto. Her work also features in numerous anthologies, including In Transit: Poems of Travel (The Emma Press, 2015), The Emma Press Anthology of Age (The Emma Press, 2018) and Pale Fire – New Writing on the Moon (The Frogmore Press, 2019).
Black’s work has received numerous awards, including 1st prize in the Guernsey International Poetry Competition (2016), 1st prize in the London Magazine Poetry Competition for two consecutive years (2018 & 2019) and 1st prize in the Cheltenham Poetry Festival Competition.