James was born in Dorking (Surrey, England) in 1963 and studied music at the University of York between 1982 and 1985. From 1985 to 1988 he undertook further studies in composition at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna under the guidance of Erich Urbanner.
In 1988-89, he organised the new Dutch music festival in York from which Icebreaker was born. From this point forward, he has been Icebreaker’s artistic director, with whom he is active as a performer (flutes, panpipes, wind synthesiser) and arranger.
Poke has produced several of Icebreaker’s recent albums, including the Apollo album, Music with Changing Parts, Cranial Pavement (with Richard Craig), Diderik Wagenaar (with James Woodrow and Richard Craig) and Extraction as well as remixed or remastered versions of Trance and Terminal Velocity.
Outside of music he explores his political interests, particularly as chair of the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign and of the West Surrey Branch of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, and has stood (unsuccessfully) as candidate for his local council on behalf of the Green Party.