My first collection The Frost Fairs (Salt, 2011) deals with love in many forms from transatlantic relationships in the present day to hidden gay and intersex lives from history. It travels across both the chalk landscapes of Sussex and the urban centres of Brighton and London. It was a Book of the Year for The Independent and The Poetry School, and a summer read for The Observer. In 2012, it won the Polari First Book Prize.
Critics On The Frost Fairs
John McCullough's debut collection introduces a writer acutely aware of poetry's transformative power, its ability to question assumptions and subtly shift perspective ... Sharp yet compassionate, formal yet nimble, the poems glitter with slang and modern culture while maintaining an engaging seriousness. ― Ben Wilkinson, The Guardian
In his fine debut collection The Frost Fairs, John McCullough turns out tender love poems and imaginative thought experiments with equal aplomb. ― Suzi Feay, The Independent Books of the Year
In this immensely enjoyable collection there is an immediacy and tenderness that is outstanding. These vivid moving poems have such a sharp eye for those telling daily details, the particulars. All of this, plus their humour, creates poems that are solidly tangible and believable. ― Lee Harwood
McCullough has a very distinctive style of voice, creating a close affinity with the reader which builds to a wonderful empathy with the voices in this collection. A remarkable debut, he offers a playful, yet serious set of poetry which is full of nothing other than sincerity. ― Liam Parkin, LoveReading.co.uk
John McCullough's poems are never far from wonderful. ― Adam Mars-Jones
The judges were impressed with the polish and precision of the language, the confidence of the writing and the scope of the work. The Frost Fairs isn't a one-note collection, but one that covers many themes and strikes many chords, from modern transatlantic relationships to hidden gay lives from the past. It's also surprisingly mature for a first book - a debut which doesn't feel like a debut. ―Paul Burston, Head Judge for the Polari First Book Prize