I was born in Great Yarmouth in the county of Norfolk, England, in 1978. Gt. Yarmouth is on the east coast, pleasant enough in summer sunshine but a bleak place in winter. It’s also on the road to nowhere, so the feeling of isolation can be overbearing at times. I moved south to Essex in the 1990s to study and have lived there since and now reside in Manningtree. It’s the smallest town in England and former haunt of the infamous Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, in the 17th Century.
What is the greatest thing about the place you call home?
I’ve lived in Manningtree for nearly eight years and its place on the Stour Estuary gives it a tranquil feel. The coast and its abundant wildlife is perhaps the greatest thing about the area. Walks along the sea walls and salt marshes are such an inspiration for poetry and for my professional exploits as an ecologist studying coastal habitats. With my bedroom window open in the spring and summer, the cry of a curlew on the mudflats is a familiar and wonderful sound.
What turns you on creatively?
Nature. Music. Running. Not necessarily in that order though. Nature has inspired me since childhood. I grew up exploring the Waveney Valley and learned to appreciate the natural environment. It was my solace then and it is now. Watching the sun rise over Matsushima Bay on the Pacific coast of Japan was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve experienced; the closest thing to paradise on earth.
At an early age, dad instilled a love of music. The first album I bought was by the Police (the fantastic Ghost in the Machine). Diverging from new wave to punk and post punk was a mere formality. I was drawn to the manic edge of punk and the melancholic introspection of post punk. The main influences on my writing range from the more traditional written poetry of Edward Thomas and Philip Larkin to the lyrics of Ian Curtis (Joy Division), Morrissey (The Smiths) and Mark Burgess (The Chameleons). The sparse arrangements of post punk, tending towards despair and sadness, filter into the spare haiku poems and prose I now write.
I currently spend a lot of time running. Having run hundreds of miles, both in training and in races, I love the freedom to explore that running brings, and with it find inspiration for poetry. It’s also an escape from life’s problems, a chance to focus on the run. To link creativity and running, I tour around different parkrun venues (as the unofficial parkrun poet!) each Saturday, writing a short poem or two. I’m currently, trying to run every parkrun course in East Anglia (a feat I’m calling East Ran-glia!), which involves visiting all the parkruns in the counties of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk (35 courses).
What is your favorite word, and can you use it in a poetic sentence?
A word I first picked up from the film Kingpin as a teenager. I just love the sound of it. It’s also a great thing to be as a scientist or writer.
The punctilious poems of the poet were nothing compared to the ponderous platitudes of the plasterer.
What is your pet peeve?
Being controlled. I just can’t stand it. Telling me to do something will only be successful if I want to do it. Otherwise, I will rebel. Sort of a pathological anti-authority response!
What defines Tim Gardiner?
Intrigued by most things, but stubborn to the core. I never give up, even in the direst of circumstances.
Dr Tim Gardiner is an ecologist, poet and children's author from Manningtree in Essex, UK. His haiku have been published in literary magazines including Frogpond, Modern Haiku and The Heron's Nest. His first collection of haiku, On the Edge, was published in 2017. Tim's debut children's book, The Voyage of the Queen Bee, was published by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2016.