Cliff Forshaw is a poet and painter whose work engages with themes of place, nature, history and myth, and often features creative translation with ‘cover versions’ playing variations on Dante, Rimbaud, Lorca or Rilke.
Trans (Collective Press, 2005) culminates with an updating of Ovid’s Metamorphoses; Vandemonian (Arc, 2013) focuses on Van Diemen’s Land and its inhabitants – human and animal, newcomer and Aborigine – to piece together a fragmentary history of Tasmania; Pilgrim Tongues (Wrecking Ball, 2015) travels from Hull to Vietnam and back, by way of Israel, Transylvania, California and Cambodia. In Satyr (Shoestring, 2017) an Elizabethan malcontent, Satyrist, channelled through Cliff’s poems, drawings and paintings, returns from the dead to appraise the contemporary world.
Cliff studied painting at art college before developing an interest in languages and literatures. After working in Spain, Mexico, Germany and New York, and freelance writing in London, he completed a doctorate on Renaissance literature at Oxford. He taught at Bangor, Sheffield and was senior lecturer in English at Hull University, and prosody consultant for the OED. He has been writer in residence in France, Romania, Tasmania, Kyrgyzstan, a Djerrassi resident artist in California, twice a Hawthornden writing fellow, and winner of the Welsh Academi John Tripp award. In 2016 he appeared at the International Poetry Festival of Granada, Nicaragua.
He has collaborated with writers, visual artists and musicians to produce illustrated anthologies and exhibitions and made three short films: Drift (Humber Mouth Literature Festival, 2008); Under Travelling Skies, (Larkin25 award, 2012); and Slipway (Beverley Literature Festival, 2013).
Cliff was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at York University 2019/20.