Peter Sutton: poet, playwright, translator

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A Colourful Age

A Colourful Age reflects on a broad spectrum of life, ranging from visits to art galleries, memories of childhood and the lost worlds of our forebears, to speculation on the stars and the terrors of the dark. Colours are a thread running through the poems, which are divided into four sections: ‘Colour Vision’, ‘Belief’, ‘Family’ and ‘Old Age’.

A Colourful Age … brims with musicality, a wry sense of humour and sometimes tender, sometimes acute, reflections on the world and its ways …. Here are elements of Frost, Manley Hopkins, Auden (Night Mail). … These honest, generous and wonderfully diverse poems will touch many readers.

Tina Cole, winner of the Yaffle Poetry Competition, 2020

“… a multihued reflection on life’s impermanence in...a straightforward, witty, no-nonsense style. These poems can make you smile, make you cross, make you wonder and catch at your heart. They are rich with rhythm, rhyme, alliteration and musicality. Read them out loud, savour the sounds.”

Lesley Ingram, winner of the National Stanza Competition, 2020

“In this collection of superbly crafted poems, Peter Sutton connects you to a rich seam of people, places and stories...he creates lines that resonate with folk-like rhythms and benefit from his exceedingly rich vocabulary. leavened throughout with...wry humour. A very entertaining read.”

Clifford Liles, author of The Thin Veneer, Dempsey & Windle, July 2022

Buy the Book

Copies available from bookshops or direct from the publisher, Black Pear Press

ISBN 978-1-913418-76-2

Click here for Black Pear website.

Elgar Country

These 27 poems by Peter Sutton explore the landscapes, towns and cities that formed the backdrop to Elgar’s life and inspired so much of his work. They urge the reader to listen not only to his magical music but also to the words of the poets of the Malvern Hills, and to the sounds of the earth and the air.

Buy the Book

Copies available from bookshops or direct from the publisher, Black Pear Press

ISBN 978-1-913418-60-1

Click here for Black Pear website.

… a captivating collection, written by a poet who intuitively understands the Malvern land where Elgar's music was made and belongs

Sara-Jane Arbury, poet, playwright, and performer

“… an examination of the inspiration, and a poetic score to what the area has meant to so many”

David Armitage, Assistant Partnership Manager, Malvern Hills AONB

“… full of rhythm and cadence, precision, and energy … a feel-good collection, and the poet's warmth and wit breathe through every page”

Alison Chisholm, poet

“… a platform from which to understand how a creative genius takes his inspiration from his surroundings”

Stuart Freed, Acting Chairman of the Elgar Society

“… A delightful rich study of Elgar and the landscape of his life. A thoroughly compelling read”

Nina Lewis, Worcestershire Poet Laureate (2017-18)

“… entertaining and erudite … unique insights into the composer's life and work, and his beloved countryside”

Peter Smith, Artistic Director, Autumn in Malvern Festival

“… Elgar set the work of many poets to music. Compellingly, Sutton has set the composer to words”

Michael W. Thomas, poet, author, 'TLS' reviewer, lecturer at The Open University

Poems in Journals

Peter Sutton is joint winner of the Kipling Society John McGivering Poetry Prize 2021 for his poem Shipping Out. The winning poems, the other winnner being Siobhan Flynn, are published in the Kipling Journal.

John McGivering Poetry Prize 2021 Judges’ Report by Harry Ricketts and Jan Montefiore: “Shipping Out is a moving and accomplished poem that skilfullly displays the figure of sea-crossing in Kipling’s imagined elegy for his son’s death in World War I.”

Click for Kipling Society website.

Since the publication of his Piers Plowman, other poems by Peter Sutton have been published in poetry journals such as Acumen, HQ, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review and Sarasvati. For details see the Poetry section of his full c.v. (link below). He regularly reads from his work at Ledbury Poetry Salons and other West Midlands events.

Readers and listeners have said:

“engaging mixture of humor, wordplay, grit, and mythology”

“cleverly mixing humour with very dark subjects”

“tremendously energetic and playful...”

“a skilled and generous performer”

“Peter made the stage come alive”

Poems of Armenian War and Peace

Poems of Armenian War and Peace by Liana Hayrapetyan and Peter Sutton, with illustrations by Patricia Arbelina and Martha Moderitz, presents two contrasting views of Armenian culture and history.

Buy the Book

Poems of Armenian War and Peace is published in Armenia by Edit Print with the support of The Tekeyan Trust of London, which works to develop and promote Armenian culture, science and art throughout the world.

ISBN 978-9939-75-346-1

Copies available via Amazon: Click here.

“Reading these poems is a complex pleasure. Those which narrate the small sensory act, or the evocation of place, are haunted with histories and oppressions; and those which address those oppressions directly often have a simple clarity, like the ringing of a bell.” Highly recommended.

James Sheard

“This book is a truly powerful collaboration. The beauty and tragedy of Armenia unfold, and by the end one shares in the profound sense of attachment and love which the poets and artists feel for this country. To engage with it is a deeply moving experience.“

Fergus McGonigal

“A fascinating collection. Here we read of hopes and lamentations; there we read how to open and eat a pomegranate, or how sounds are coaxed from a duduk. The particular shares space with the eternal, and the disquiet, and joy, of the individual heart find echoes in the heart of a nation.“

Michael W. Thomas

Piers Plowman

Peter Sutton has completed a modern verse translation of William Langland’s great 14th-century poem Piers Plowman. Langland’s disturbing and humorous commentary on corruption and greed remains apposite today.

Peter Sutton has given readings from his translation at Ilkley Literature Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival, South Downs Poetry Festival, Stamford Verse Poetry Festival, Worcester Festival, the International Congress on Medieval Studies, the International Piers Plowman Society Conference, and many similar events.

“Congratulations on this major achievement. The rest of us Langlandians are in your debt!”

Lawrence Warner, Director of the International Piers Plowman Society

“I hope your book will receive a warm reception. It has something distinctive to offer and presents the poem in a very attractive and accessible way.”

Carl Schmidt, editor of the Middle English original

“Sutton’s translation succeeds as a readable, rhythmic representation of the original.”


“Sutton is to be congratulated for producing a highly readable rendition of the poem that may intrigue new readers and will certainly entertain those of us familiar with the poem in its Middle English version.”

Yearbook of Langland Studies

“I’m still fuelled with inspiration”

Audience member, International Piers Plowman Society Conference

“A masterclass in how to engage and hold an audience”

Peter Williams, Hereford Times online

“Able to connect perfectly with his audience”

Audience member, South Downs Poetry Festival

How to Buy the Book

William Langland, Piers Plowman: A Modern Verse Translation by Peter Sutton is published by McFarland of North Carolina.

ISBN print 978-0-7864-9503-0

ebook 978-1-4766-1817-3

Available from bookshops and online booksellers. Click the book cover for a PDF of four sample pages.

Distributed in the UK and Europe by The Eurospan Group (c/o Turpin Distribution), Pegasus Drive, Stratton Business Park, Biggleswade, Beds SG18 8TQ

Elgar and Alice

Peter Sutton’s play Elgar and Alice was first performed on 5th June 2007 as part of the celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Gerald Harper played Elgar and the Director was Gene David Kirk.

Elgar and Alice is set in 1920 at the Elgars’ home in Hampstead, and explores the extraordinary marriage that resulted in great English music ranging from Land of Hope and Glory to oratorios, symphonies and popular songs.

“I was immensely pleased to undertake a happy period of rehearsals, then stick on that massive moustache and commence the tour. It was a joy to do, and meant a great deal to me.”

Gerald Harper

“A superbly crafted play”

Music and Vision Magazine

“Peter Sutton has got right under Elgar’s skin”

Elgar Society Journal

“Sutton does a skilful job”

Birmingham Post

“Very neat. It’s neatly done, altogether”

Oxford Times

“My wife and I were absolutely bowled over”

Sir Charles Mackerras

Elgar and Alice returned to the Swan Theatre Worcester during the 2011 Three Choirs Festival. It received a third production in 2016, sponsored by the Elgar Society.

Performing Rights

Professional and amateur performances of Elgar and Alice are by negotiation.


The Prebumptious Mr Punch

The Prebumptious Mr Punch is the story of a present-day Punch. Now it’s prison, not the noose, that Punch faces, with its teacher and doctor and chaplain and governor. Will they reform him? And what will happen when he gets out? This funny and thought-provoking play bends the rules of theatre while providing the answers.

The play was premiered at the Swan Theatre Studio, Worcester, in 2013, directed by Chris Jaeger.

Death of a Hunter

Peter Sutton’s translation of the play Death of a Hunter by Rolf Hochhuth, adapted by Peter Thiers, received its UK and English language premiere at the Finborough Theatre, London, in April 2018. Edmund Dehn played Hemingway, and the play was directed by Anthony Shrubsall.

The same team presented the play again at the 2019 Brighton Festival.

My Son Will

Peter Sutton’s playwriting began with his winning first prize in West Midlands playwriting competitions and being named runner-up in the 2005 Kings Cross Competition. In 2006 he was invited to write a play for an international Shakespeare Festival, and further plays have been given readings at Actors & Writers London.

About Peter Sutton

For some years Peter Sutton was Head of Publications at the UNESCO Institute for Education in Hamburg, where he edited the International Review of Education and published books and articles in six languages. Since 1994 he has worked freelance for international organisations, lawyers and arts centres, translating or editing some 50 books and journals and around 1500 other documents.

Peter Sutton has read from Piers Plowman and his other poetry at events including Chipping Campden Literature Festival, The Elgar Festival, Ilkley Literature Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival, South Downs Poetry Festival, Stamford Verse Poetry Festival, Worcester Festival, the International Congress on Medieval Studies, the International Piers Plowman Society Conference, Ledbury Poetry Salons, Licensed to Rhyme, Worcester Speakeasy, and meetings of Herefordshire Stanza.

He has led workshops and given presentations on Elgar, Langland, languages, translation, poetry and education at meetings, conferences and universities in a dozen countries, and has lived and worked in Armenia, Germany, the UK and the United States. He has also written German language textbooks.