Aidan Andrew Dun spent a fantastical childhood in the West Indies and knew his calling for poetry from an early age. Returning to London as a teenager to live with his inspirational grandmother, dancer Marie Rambert, he briefly attended Highate School but left without A-levels after taking (perhaps too seriously) the role of the rebel-chieftan Aufidius in Coriolanus. After many years travelling the world with a guitar AAD was drawn back to London to explore the psychogeography of Kings Cross, magnet to other visionaries before him. Vale Royal (Goldmark, 1995) written and recited in the form of a quest, dreams of transforming an urban wasteland into a transcultural zone of canals at the heart of London.
Vale Royal was launched to critical acclaim at the Royal Albert Hall and earned AAD the title Voice of Kings Cross. In following years AAD has recited at the Royal Festival Hall, the Ledbury, Cheltenham, and Swindon literary festivals.
Launching his second epic poem India Cantos (Universal) in 2002 he accomplished an American tour, reading in New York, Santa Fe and San Francisco (at City Lights Bookshop). AAD has read alongside Allen Ginsberg, David Gascoigne, Ben Okri, Iain Sinclair and Andrew Motion. In 2008 he lectured at the British Library on The Kings Cross Mysteries. Numerous short (and some longer) poems have appeared in The London Magazine, English, The Cortland Review, The Salzburg Review, Tears in the Fence, Resurgence et al. In 2005 AAD undertook a special commission for the Wordsworth Trust.
The Uninhabitable City (Goldmark) was published in 2005; Salvia Divinorum (Goldmark ) was launched 2007. McCool, a verse-novel in 264 sonnets, was published by Goldmark, 2010.
Unholyland (Hesperus, 2012) is also set in the Onegin sonnet-form of Pushkin, the same stanza deployed in McCool: the poem has been described as ‘Pushkin with a spliff’. Against the background of daily events in Israel and the West Bank a teenage Israeli DJ meets and falls in love with a young Palestinian rapper. In a private letter to AAD Tom Paulin said of the work: ‘I was deeply moved by Unholyland – it has extraordinary energy, wit, knowledge, and beautifully marries the vernacular with rhyme. It reads beautifully and is like nothing else I’ve read.’
*Sinclair, psychogeographer of persuasive knowledge, has told the surreal story (in Lights Out for the Territory) of Mike Goldmark’s inspired last-minute decision to hire the Albert Hall in 1995 to launch the London epic Vale Royal. But there remains the untold story of the championship of the poem by Oliver Caldecott, one of the UK’s most visionary publishers, who published Castaneda for Penguin and the Tao Te Ching for Wildwood House. Caldecott struggled for years at Rider-Hutchinson in the early-to-mid-eighties to publish Vale Royal against a cabal of opposition. When at last his attempts were thwarted he pointed the author to Mike Goldmark in Uppingham but it would be another seven years before the work would see the light of day.
Oliver Caldecott’s faith is gratefully remembered, his memory treasured.