Cliff Forshaw is a poet and painter.
Educated by Catholic priests, he left school at sixteen and worked in an abattoir before studying painting at art college and developing an interest in languages and literatures, which he studied sporadically at Warwick, Cambridge and Birkbeck College, London where he took an MA with Distinction in Renaissance Studies.
After working in Spain, Mexico, Italy, Germany, and New York, and freelance writing in London, he won a British Academy studentship to complete his doctorate at Wolfson College, Oxford with a thesis which explored classical and renaissance satire, and in particular the figure of the Elizabethan Malcontent Satyrist.
Since then he has lived in Snowdonia, been prosody consultant for the OED, and taught at Bangor, Sheffield, and Hull University where he was Senior Lecturer in English. In 2017, he left to concentrate on writing and painting, and was awarded an honorary Senior Fellowship. He is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at York University.
He has been writer-in-residence in France, Romania, Tasmania, Kyrgizstan and California, twice been a Hawthornden Writing Fellow, and won the Welsh Academi John Tripp Award. He has also been invited to read at various literary events in Brussels, Palo Alto, Dublin, Sydney, Iceland and Suceava (Romania). In 2016 he appeared at the XII International Festival of Poetry in Granada, Nicaragua.
As founder member of the Humber Writers, he led and contributed poems, drawings and paintings to eight collaborative books and several exhibitions for the Humber Mouth and other literature festivals. He has also made three short films: Drift (Humber Mouth Festival 2008); Under Travelling Skies, which won the first Larkin25 Words Award in 2012; and Slipway, which was commissioned by Wordquake and shown at the Beverley Literature Festival 2013. Other recent book collaborations to which Cliff has contributed poems, paintings and photographs include: Incoming (Humber Mouth Festival 2014); Sketches, Dispatches, Hull Tales and Ballads (Kingston Press / Humber Mouth Festival 2012); Postcards from Hull (Humber Mouth Festival 2011); Hide (Far Ings Nature Reserve / Humber Mouth Festival 2010); Architexts (Humber Mouth Festival 2007).
Cliff's latest projects include:
Elemental, a series of elegies which took their starting point as the death of his mother, but began to include meditations on what we have more generally lost in social, environmental and historical terms.
French Leave: versions (and perversions) of French poems from the mid 19th to the early 21st century.
Cityscapes: a series of large paintings which originally focused on views of Hull from the few high buildings in the city. The paintings have now largely moved to ground level, and increasingly away from Hull, to depict people in public places such as squares, railway stations, cafes and bars.
Voyage: Cliff collaborated with composer Deborah Pritchard and trumpeter Simon Desbruslais. for Voyage for Solo Trumpet which celebrated the twin Voyage statues by Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir in Hull and Vik, Iceland. Cliff and Simon performed this in Hull as part of John Grant's North Atlantic Flux Festival in May 2017, and in Vik in August 2017. There was a final performance as part of the Humber Mouth Literature Festival to coincide with the launch of Cliff's exhibition of cityscapes at Hull Central Library in October 2017.
Hole, a satirical poem / version of Dante's Inferno in three cantos in which Philip Larkin leads us through the Underworld in search of Hull: http://www.thecommononline.org/features/march-2016-poetry-feature
Cliff also writes fiction.