Graham Mort

Graham Mort

Poetry Gallery


Click on the Book Covers Below to read a selection of Graham's poems

A Night on the Lash
Circular Breathing
Snow From the North
Sky Burial

Into the Ashes

Halifax   A Country on Fire

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"Graham Mort is acknowledged as one of contemporary verse's most accomplished practitioners. This book, which showcases a selection of poems from five earlier collections alongside a generous tranche of new work, perfectly exhibits the blend of formal scrupulousness, sensory evocation and intellectual rigour that has shaped his reputation..."

Sarah Crown, The Saturday Guardian

Places have always informed my writing, my awareness of self.  My earliest sense of location formed in the post-industrial landscape of the North-West of England. It was dominated by dramatic visuals: decayed mills bearing the names of Empire; endless terraced housing; blackened chapels and churches; lorries carrying cotton bales to the few spinning frames still working; freight trains clanking past by day and flaring through the nights; polluted valleys with rivers running red or green from the dyeworks.

Then moorland rising from this ruination with its gritstone and heather and birdlife and long horizons. That taste of wilderness, however tamed, drew me to locations where the earth has repeatedly swallowed human endeavour.

To that helpless, visceral sense of belonging, were added the complications of a jumbled post-industrial, post-colonial, political, working-class cultural heritage. In my early teens I discovered literature: especially the work of those writers who explored human energy and conflict in relation to jarring urban and rural landscapes. Then I read everything I could lay my hands on from Beowulf to Ted Hughes, DH Lawrence to William Faulkner, Flaubert to Tolstoy, Sholokhov and Achebe. And there is still so much to read, to re-read.

        In recent years my work has taken me across Africa, dislocating this sense of belonging or twinning it with the moral and psychological discomfort of being in the developing world. It’s hard at times not to be paralysed by those paradoxes, not to feel the crushing presumption of one's own Western gaze. Then to see swifts against the crimson of a Kenyan dawn heading for my own village in Yorkshire, to feel an intercontinental connection, to sense the ancient syntax of events.

         Now I find myself writing about cities as much as about the countryside - and about journeys, transitions, politics, belief, relationships. All interim places, questionable facts, provisional states and illusory moments that become realities in the texture of my consciousness and imagination.

        Writing, for me, is a slow-burn process that gradually brings experience into poetic form. The photographer André Cartier Bresson talked about seizing the ‘decisive moment’ and in some ways a poet shares this sense that moments in time have a metaphorical depth or luminosity that can be held in a linguistic frame. But they often lie latent, like the photographer’s undeveloped image, until the imagination takes them up again to synthesise a poem.

        I write stories, too, and narrative has always been a driving force in the ordering of the experience that I want a poem to offer the reader. Poems are parables, allegories, myths - and mere moments. Often indecisive ones, because poems can be indeterminate: fleeting glimpses migrating towards a future that lies beyond us as the present moment slips away.