Ken Cockburn was born in Kirkcaldy in 1960. He studied French and German at Aberdeen University, and Theatre Studies at University College Cardiff. From 1996 to 2004 he worked at the Scottish Poetry Library, as Fieldworker and Assistant Director. With Alec Finlay he established and ran pocketbooks, an award-winning series of books of poetry and visual art (1999-2002). Since 2004 he has worked freelance as a poet, translator, editor and writing tutor.
He has published two books of poems, Souvenirs and Homelands (1998) and On the flyleaf (2007). As editor, he worked on several anthologies including The Order of Things: an anthology of Scottish sound, pattern and concrete poems (2001), Tweed Rivers (2005), and The Season Sweetens / Die Saison Versüssend (2006).
His translations from German include Goethe’s Venetian Epigrams, and poems by Thomas Brasch, Adel Karasholi, Christine Marendon, Arne Rautenberg and Thomas Rosenlöcher. Some of these are collected in Feathers & Lime (2007). He contributed several translations to The Night Begins with a Question: XXV Austrian Poems 1978-2002 (ed. Iain Galbraith, 2007), including poems by h.c artmann and Andreas Okopenko. In 2008, he received the Arts Foundation Fellowship for Literary Translation.
In 2010, with Alec Finlay, he received a Creative Scotland Vital Spark award for The Road North, a ‘translation’ of Basho’s Back Roads to Far Towns from 17th century Japan to contemporary Scotland (www.theroadnorth.co.uk)