"...the Howlin' Wolf of Hull poetry..."georgiasam blog
Cliff is a poet and painter. Recent books include Satyr (Shoestring Press, 2017) - a satirical sequence illustrated by Cliff's paintings and drawings, and Pilgrim Tongues (Wrecking Ball, 2015) which travels from Hull to Vietnam and back, by way of Israel, Transylvania, California and Cambodia, continuing the voyages he embarked upon in Wake (Flarestack Poetry Pamphlet Prize 2009). Cliff's paintings have appreaded in various exhibtions, including, most recently, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2020.
Cliff has been a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at York University (2018/19) and Hull University (2020/21). He is working on a series of large cityscape paintings, and French Leave, a sequence of versions and perversions of French poems by Gautier, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Laforgue, Apollinaire and others. His poetry collections include:
Vandemonian (Arc, 2013), which focuses on Van Diemen's land and its inhabitants – human and animal, newcomer and Aborigine – to piece together a fragmentary history of Tasmania
Trans (The Collective Press, Wales, 2005) which culminates in a rewriting of Ovid's Metamorphoses.
Hole, Cliff's satirical poem in which Philip Larkin leads us through a Dantean Hell (in search of Hull), is The Common online's March poetry feature: http://www.thecommononline.org/features/march-2016-poetry-feature
"The high energy of Cliff Forshaw's poems makes me think particularly of John Donne and the other Metaphysicals: argument, wit, erudition and force of feeling all working to convey an authentic vision of the world we live in."
"As always, Cliff Forshaw's writing embodies a large intelligence. These are poems of voyage, exertion and discovery, enjoying the challenge of unpredictable and unusual locations, both geographical and psychological. At the same time, they demonstrate grounded, dependable craft. They never trick the reader, but, witty and exuberant, send us on our poetic journeys with new imaginative maps."
"Cliff Forshaw is a poet of rooted non-attachments, a nomad of the suburbs and a boulevardier of the wild places. As maps go, Pilgrim Tongues is the one that will get you lost, but you'll thank its author for it, later, or maybe even at the time."
"The voice here is distinctive and mercurial - cool, intelligent yet engaged - the spirit of Larkin, perhaps, re-emerging, muscular and revitalised, in the 21st century."
Flarestack Prize judges.
“ a dizzying, noisy world tour viewed through the prism of classical learning and told with dazzling accomplishment and technique. With a voice that is frank and inquisitive, the poet tackles complex themes and ideas with enviable accessibility and wit ... a rich, densely populated collection that speaks to the mind and the ear. It is multilingual and peripatetic in its concerns and always open to the strange and new. Above all this collection is characterised by an iridescent lyricism."
Christopher James in Iota 95
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Hull Cityscapes project: a series of large oil paintings, accompanied by poems. The paintings have been exhibited at Hull Central Library as part of the Hull to Iceland and Back event commissioned for the Humber Mouth Literature Festival, October 2017. Another exhibition was hosted by Smailes Goldie, at their Hull offices from November 2017 to February 2018.
Translations: versions and perversions