John Agard was born in 1949 in Georgetown, Guyana (then called British Guiana). He moved to England in 1977 when he became a touring lecturer for the Commonwealth Institute to promote a better understanding of Caribbean culture. Over the course of the next 8 years he visited 2,500 schools - and started writing poetry for children. Since then, he has published more than 50 books of poetry for all ages, stories and non fiction, including A Caribbean Dozen which he also co-edited with his wife Grace Nichols.
His collections for young readers include The Young Inferno, a teenage spin on Dante's Inferno, Einstein, The Girl Who Hated Maths and Hello H20, both illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura. His adult collections include Alternative Anthem and his latest, Playing the Ghost Of Maimonides. His first non-fiction, entitled Book, tells the history of the book in the voice of the book. His awards include the Casa de las Americas Poetry Prize, the Paul Hamlyn Award and the 2012 Queen's Gold Medal for poetry. His poems Half Caste and Checking Out Me History have been on the GCSE curriculum since 2002. In 2021, he was awarded the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award. He lives in Sussex.