‘Cheesecloth mists’, rain ‘that hissed like steak or fish in a skillet’, and the ‘haze of dust and heat-wavering roads’ of South Africa….
From the majestic beauty of Ingleborough in North Yorkshire to fascinating landscapes and people in Europe, South Africa and far flung places beyond, a new collection of poetry by a Lancaster academic is sure to capture the imagination.
Professor of Creative Writing and Transcultural Literature Graham Mort, poet and author of radio drama and short fiction, has just had his tenth collection of poems, ‘Black Shiver Moss’, published by Seren Books.
The new collection focuses on a myriad of landscapes and people from his global travels.
“Here is a traveller who has taken his destinations to heart, reproducing their weathers and textures with a startling exactitude and intensity,” says the publisher.
“When he writes of his northern home counties, the tone is full of warmth and a kind of yearning, not just for a personal past but for historical human movement – those who migrated over centuries to farm and mine and work the cotton belt factories, bringing their languages with them.”
Professor Mort, who lives in a Yorkshire village close to the Lancashire and Cumbrian borders, said the inspiration for his new collection of poems had come from travel, but also from a kind of rootedness.
“Sometimes it’s when you’re away from home, that you find yourself writing about it and, sometimes, it’s only when you leave a location that you can begin to explore it in writing,” he explains. “I guess places take hold and expand in the imagination. Although many of the poems begin with actual locations, they’re really explorations of consciousness, movement itself, of dislocation and how language tries to accommodate new circumstances.”
Professor Mort’s literary prizes include an Eric Gregory award for his first collection of poems, prizes in the Cheltenham and Arvon Foundation poetry competitions and the Bridport and the Edge Hill prizes for short fiction.
He has worked on writing projects throughout the UK, tutored on Arvon Foundation and Taliesin Trust courses, taken part in poetry events in Vietnam and China, and held fellowships and writing residencies that include the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, the Times Educational Supplement and a Leverhulme International Fellowship in Cape Town.
Professor Mort trained as a secondary school and special needs teacher and worked as a freelance writer in education specialising in multilingual and multi-arts projects. He is currently a National Teaching Fellow.
His recent research work encompasses work in Kurdistan and projects involving African writers. He has worked extensively in sub-Saharan Africa for the British Council, designing and directing mentoring projects in creative writing for print-media and radio broadcast.
The collection will be launched on 25 August at Waterstones in Lancaster at 7.30pm, when Professor Mort will read from his new collection and sign copies of the book.