Cliff Forshaw, photo courtesy of Caroline Forbes

"...the Howlin' Wolf of Hull poetry..."georgiasam blog

Cliff is a poet and painter. His paintings have appeared in various exhibitions, including the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. He has been a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at York and Hull Universities.

Poetry collections and translations include:
  • RE:VERB (Broken SleepBooks, 2022) - a book-length narrative sequence about Rimbaud's abandonment of poetry and his life as a trader and gun-runner in Abyssina, For a preview of the book and a selection of poems: Cliff Forshaw - RE:VERB Broken Sleep Books
  • Satyr (Shoestring Press, 2017) - a satirical sequence illustrated by Cliff's paintings and drawings
  • Pilgrim Tongues (Wrecking Ball, 2015) which travels from Hull to Vietnam and back, by way of Israel, Transylvania, California and Cambodia
  • 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, a long satirical poem in which Philip Larkin leads us through a Dantean Hell (in search of Hull), is available online; http://www.thecommononline.org/features/march-2016-poetry-feature

French Leave: versions and perversions, a full-length collection of translations and variations on classic French poems from Gautier, de Nerval and Baudelaire to Apollinaire, is due from Broken Sleep Books in June 2023.

From Pound and Eliot to Derek Mahon, Marilyn Hacker and Rachael Boast, Anglophone poets have looked to France to take their art to school. In French Leave Cliff Forshaw does the same, with a dazzling bouquet of translations and ‘variations’ taking off from French originals. With Gallic esprit and polish, and a strong admixture of zest and sass, Forshaw’s versions range beyond canonical favourites into strange and enchanting territory. French Leave is no vin de table, but a vintage performance. — David Wheatley

To read the first few pages: Cliff Forshaw - French Leave Broken Sleep Books

French Leave

Praise for earlier collections

"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."
Christopher Reid

"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."
Carol Rumens

"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."
David Wheatley

"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.

Quote The voice here is distinctive and mercurial – cool, intelligent yet engaged – the spirit of Larkin, perhaps, remerging, muscular and revitalised, in the 21st century. Flarestack Pamphlet Prize Judges 2009
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Translations: versions and perversions

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