Gareth Reeves studied English at the University of Oxford in the late 1960s where he first met Michael Schmidt at the Oxford Poetry Society, at around the time when Schmidt took on the Carcanet magazine. Upon receiving his undergraduate degree and after working for a year at Oxford University Press, he went to Stanford University to study for a PhD, where he also won a Wallace Stegner creative writing fellowship. He returned to England in the mid 1970s and worked for Schmidt at Carcanet Press whilst also completing his PhD. In 1976 he accepted a post at Durham University where he became Reader in English and ran an MA creative writing course in poetry. He has now retired from teaching. He is the son of the poet, critic and children’s author, James Reeves.
He first started writing poetry in his undergraduate days, publishing the pamphlet Pilgrims with Carcanet in 1969. In 1976 he appeared in the anthology Ten English Poets, edited by Michael Schmidt, and his first collection Real Stories was published by Carcanet in 1984. He published a further three books of poetry with Carcanet: Listening In (1993), To Hell with Paradise: New and Selected Poems (2012), and Nuncle Music (2013), a sequence of monologues in the voice of the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. He is also the author of two books on T. S. Eliot, the co-author of a book on poetry of the 1930s, and many essays on nineteenth- and twentieth-century English, American and Irish poetry.