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Greg Gilbert 1977 – 2021

Updated: Oct 2, 2021



Greg Gilbert 1977 – 2021

It is with great regret that we hear that Greg Gilbert has died. In an announcement on social media his wife Stacey Heale said that he ‘had gently slipped away into the stars’. Greg was due to have taken part in this year’s festival but his deteriorating health made this difficult to achieve. In August this year he was taken off treatment for advanced bowel cancer and was receiving pain relief at a hospice, before finally returning home to be with his family.

Greg came to everyone’s attention as the lyricist and lead singer with the Southampton indie band the Delays, setting a firm foundation for his poetry. His work was selected by Carol Ann Duffy for her ‘Laureate’s Choice’ series and his first collection of poems, Love Makes a Mess of Dying, was published in 2019 and a second collection is in preparation. The following poem gives an idea of Greg’s potency as a writer and is reproduced by kind permission of his publisher Smith|Doorstop Books.


Love Makes a Mess of Dying

Love makes a mess of dying,

Requires a measure of healing

Between what you can allow yourself

And what you can allow others;


It holds you the centre

Of a tolerant universe; such

A simple thing for one, now splintered

Prismatic, unruly.


Love makes a mess of dying,

Rarefies what you’ve got left and

Draws close those for whom you’ve been

Essential architecture, each seeking

A totem.


Whatever tricks I tell myself to deaden before dying –

That I’m alone, that alone is the essential state – comes

Undone at the sight of love and I’m afraid, not of dying,

But of leaving a mess for love.


The festival will later publish a fuller appreciation of Greg’s work and the event ‘Renaissance Man’ is being re-scheduled to feature readings of his poems and will be made available in due course. Meanwhile, the trustees, Friends and poets of Winchester Poetry Festival offer their deepest sympathies to Greg’s family and his many friends.

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