Burnside studied English and European Languages at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology. A former computer software engineer, he has been a freelance writer since 1996. He is a former Writer in Residence at the University of Dundee and is now Reader in Creative Writing at St Andrews University. His first collection of poetry, The Hoop, was published in 1988 and won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award. Other poetry collections include Common Knowledge (1991), Feast Days (1992), winner of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and The Asylum Dance (2000), winner of the Whitbread Poetry Award and shortlisted for both the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year) and the T. S. Eliot Prize. The Light Trap (2001) was also shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize.
John Burnside is also the author of a collection of short stories, Burning Elvis (2000), and several novels, including The Dumb House (1997), The Mercy Boys (1999) (winner of the Encore Award) and The Locust Room (2001), which is set in Cambridge in 1975, and explores the consequences of a series of violent rapes. His poetry collection, The Good Neighbour (2005), was shortlisted for the 2005 Forward Poetry Prize (Best Collection). He also occasionally writes a column for The Guardian newspaper.
Burnside was one of the judges for the 2007 Griffin Poetry Prize.
Wallace Stevens: poet to poet - Faber
The Books Interview - John Burnside: Why Hard Men Need Tough Love ; Is John Burnside Jekyll or Hyde? A Tender Nature Poet or a Novelist of Rape and Murder? Christina Patterson Finds Out
May 19, 2001; John Burnside is a bit of an enigma. A big, hefty bloke, who grew up in working-class Corby and has worked in factories and a...
As a boy John Burnside considered killing his abusive father. Now a prize-winning poet, he is ready to face his demons and bury the memory of his childhood tormentor
Feb 18, 2006; There were lies, of course. Tommy Burnside was good at those. No, good is the wrong word. He wasn't a good liar, just a constant...