Alan Morrison (poet)
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Overview of works
Morrison's work is influenced by poets including John Davidson and Harold Monro, and Anglo-Welsh poets Alun Lewis and Dylan Thomas. However, his earliest influences were John Keats, Wilfred Owen, William Blake, Andrew Marvell, Emily Brontë (whose novel Wuthering Heights first inspired Morrison to write) and Percy Shelley.
Between 2004-06 Morrison worked as editor and designer of Poetry Express, journal of Survivors' Poetry, (a mental health literary charity) and of the Survivors’ Press imprint; he selected, edited and designed the Collected Poems of David Kessel, O the Windows of the Bookshop Must Be Broken. Between 2007 and 2012 he ran poetry workshops at Mill View psychiatric hospital, Hove. In 2008 he gained an NHS Artists' Award to produce an anthology of writing from the workshops (2009) from which he was then commissioned to write his own poetic response to this residency, resulting in his epic work Captive Dragons / The Shadow Thorns, published in October 2011.
In 2014, Morrison published parts of an epic polemical poem-in-progress, Odour of Devon Violet. The poem -attributed to 'Ivor Mortise', a fictitious alter-ego- satirises contemporary austerity culture using the leitmotiv of Devon Violet, a cheap perfume particularly popular during the Thirties and Forties, as an olfactory metaphor for the retro-rhetoric, and synthetic nostalgia (a sort of austerity nostalgia or 'nosterity'/ 'austalgia', as Morrison refers to it) for a pre-welfare state Britain, promulgated by politicians. The work draws on the period polemical works of Christopher Caudwell (Illusion and Reality, Studies in a Dying Culture etc.), Edmund Wilson (To the Finland Station) and Cyril Connolly (Enemies of Promise), as well as focusing on other key cultural figures of the inter-war years, such as W.H. Auden and George Orwell.
In 2015, Lapwing Publications (Belfast) published Morrison's volume Shadows Waltz Haltingly. A deeply personal collection, it is a departure from his more socio-political poetry of recent years. Core to the volume is a series of poems charting his mother's 15+ year battle with Huntington's Disease, which finally claimed her in 2013; as well as many other poems on his family background, his own lifelong battle with chronic anxiety and obsessional neurosis (pure obsessional disorder, a lesser known but hugely debilitating type of obsessive-compulsive disorder), and poem-meditations on the lives and thought of Robert Burton (The Anatomy of Melancholy) and Søren Kierkegaard (The Concept of Anxiety etc.).
Tan Raptures - described by the Church Times as having "fluency, wit, and passion" was released in April 2017. Morrison describes the long title poem as an ‘Audenic dialectic’ in verse; it is also a Socialist-Catholic polemic in opposition to the welfare regimen of ex-Secretary of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Iain Duncan Smith.
Morrison is editor of left-wing international literary webzine, The Recusant, which he founded in 2007. In August 2010 Morrison compiled, contributed to and edited a collection of political poems entitled Emergency Verse - Poetry in Defence of the Welfare State (Caparison) endorsed by Caroline Lucas MP . This was followed in 2012 by a second, significantly bigger anti-austerity anthology, The Robin Hood Book – Verse Versus Austerity (patron Mark Serwotka of the PCS Union). Morrison started up another polemical poetry site, Militant Thistles, in 2015.
Morrison's poetry and monographs have appeared in journals including Aesthetica, Aireings, Cadenza, Candelabrum, The Cannon’s Mouth, Carillon, The Communist Review, Culture Matters, Decanto, Disability Arts Online, Eclipse, Exile, Illuminations (U.S.), The International Times, The Journal, The London Magazine, The Morning Star, Pennine Platform, The Penniless Press, Poetic Hours, Poetry and All That Jazz, Poetry Monthly International, Poetry Salzburg Review, Pulsar, Red Poets, South, Stand, The Whistling Shade (U.S.) and The Yellow Crane.
- Poems - Don't Think of Tigers - The Do Not Press, 2001
- Giving Light - Waterloo Press, 2003
- Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever - Sixties Press, 2004
- Clocking-in for the Witching Hour - Sixties Press, 2004
- Picaresque, a play for voices - Survivors' Press, 2005
- "Storming Heaven in a Book", a preface to O the Windows of the Bookshop Must Be Broken - the Collected Poems of David Kessel (ed.) - Survivors' Press, 2005
- The Mansion Gardens - Paula Brown Publishing, 2006
- Picaresque - The Pirates of Circumstance - (reprint) chipmunkapublishing, 2007-8
- A Tapestry of Absent Sitters - Waterloo Press, 2009
- Keir Hardie Street - Smokestack Books, 2010
- Emergency Verse - Poetry in Defence of the Welfare State (ed. and contributor) - Caparison, 2010
- Captive Dragons / The Shadow Thorns - Waterloo Press, 2011
- The Robin Hood Book - Verse Versus Austerity (ed. and contributor) - Caparison, 2012
- Blaze a Vanishing/ The Tall Skies - Waterloo Press, Jan 2013
- Blaze a Vanishing - Revisited - Caparison (Nov 2013) ebook for World Literature Today
- Odour of Devon Violet - 2014
- Shadows Waltz Haltingly - Lapwing Publications, Belfast, 2015
- Tan Raptures - Smokestack Books/ Dufour Editions, April 2017
- James, Gordon (1 September 2010). "Fighting public sector cuts with poetry" – via www.theguardian.com.
- "The London Magazine - October / November 2013 - Inpress Books". Inpress Books. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
- "About Alan Morrison..." Alan Morrison. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
- "Interview with Alan Morrison (part 1)". The Sociological Imagination. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
- http://www.inpressbooks.co.uk/keir_hardie_street_alan_morrison_i020821.aspx Keir Hardie Street, Inpress Books
- Alan Morrison, Keir Hardie Street, Smokestack Books, 2010, pp. 9-42
- "Diary: Dec 17". 17 December 2005 – via www.theguardian.com.
- Alan Morrison, Captive Dragons / The Shadow Thorns, Waterloo Press, 2011, Back cover
- "Submitted Literature - Madness and Literature Network". www.madnessandliterature.org.
- ""Blaze a Vanishing" by Alan Morrison". World Literature Today. 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
- Alan Morrison, Blaze a Vanishing and The Tall Skies, Waterloo Press, 2013, p. iv
- "Poetry: Alan Morrison: Shadows Waltz Haltingly and the Shadow of Huntington's - disability arts online". www.disabilityartsonline.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
- "Rapturous riposte to the austerity era". Morning Star. 2017-05-04. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
- "Staff Picks - Tan Raptures - Inpress Books". Inpress Books. Retrieved 2018-07-15.
- "Six books from contemporary poets". Church Times. 2018-06-01. Retrieved 2018-07-15.
- Alan Morrison, Tan Raptures, Smokestack Books, 2017, Back cover
- James, Gordon (2010-09-01). "Fighting public sector cuts with poetry". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
- Alan Morrison, The Robin Hood Book – Verse Versus Austerity, Caparison, 2012, pp. xiii-xiv
- "Militant Thistles". Militant Thistles. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
- "Contributors". Culture Matters. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
- "Shadows Waltz Haltingly by Alan Morrison". Disability Arts Online. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
- "Review: The Robin Hood Book: 131 Poets in Support of a Robin Hood Tax". Disability Arts Online. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
- "Unspoken Companions: Poetry and Unemployment". The International Times. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
- "Reoccupying Auden country". The International Times. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
- "Rapturous riposte to the austerity era". Morning Star. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
- "Bluebells". Whistling Shade. Retrieved 2018-04-08.