School of Arts

Dr Cliff Forshaw

BA (Warwick), MA (London), M St, DPhil (Oxon)


Cliff Forshaw

Senior Lecturer

Email: C.Forshaw@hull.ac.uk
Phone: +44(0) 1482 46 5704
Office: Larkin 271

Website: www.cliff-forshaw.co.uk



Cliff Forshaw is a poet and painter. He teaches creative writing as well as convening or contributing to a wide spectrum of literary courses focusing on Elizabethan, Romantic and contemporary poetry. Cliff has particular interests in classical and Renaissance satire, and myth, translation, and contemporary poetry: all areas in which he welcomes research proposals. He is currently supervising a thesis which combines translation and creative writing with a study of the idea of Heimat in German poetry. He has supervised theses on the poetry of Tony Harrison. Anne Stevenson, and, for a visiting Chinese student, Auden’s influence on the Chinese poet Mu Dan. Cliff also acts as a consultant on prosody for the OED.

Pilgrim TonguesvandeminancoverTrans book cover Cliff Forshaw

Pilgrim Tongues (2015), Vandemonian (2012) and Trans (2005).


Cliff’s collections include Pilgrim Tongues (Wrecking Ball, 2015) Vandemonian (Arc, 2013) and Trans (Collective Press, Wales, 2005). He has been writer-in-residence in France, Romania, Tasmania 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 and Suceava (Romania). In 2016 he will appear at the Granada Poetry Festival in Nicaragua.

As founder member of the Humber Writers he has led and contributed poems, drawings and paintings to eight collaborative books and several exhibitions commissioned 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 Award in 2012; and Slipway which was commissioned by Wordquake and shown at the Beverley Literature Festival 2013. Cliff also trained as a visual artist and has exhibited widely: his latest project Hull: Poetry, Place, Paint is a series of large paintings of the city accompanied by poems which will form the catalogue for the exhibition. Cliff’s website is: cliff-forshaw.co.uk.

“The high energy of Cliff Forshaw's poems makes me think particularly of 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

“Poems in Cliff Forshaw’s Wake thrive on energy and mastery of form, steeped in a scholarly awareness of the history of English poetry. 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 Pamphlet Prize Judges.

For poems, downloads, and more, go to Cliff's website.

Selected Publications

Poetry collections

Cliff's poems have appeared in many anthologies, journals and magazines in the UK, USA, Australia. For a recent Australian radio broadcast featuring poems about the Tasmanian Tiger visit Shadows in the scrub at ABC.

Pilgrim TonguesvandeminancoverTrans book cover Cliff Forshaw

cfTiger book cover Cliff Forshawcf1

  • Pilgrim Tongues (Wrecking Ball Press, 2015)
  • Vandemonian (Arc, 2013) 
  • Tiger (HappenStance, 2011)*
  • Wake (Flarestack Poets, 2009)* Joint-winner with Selima Hill of Flarestack Pamphlet Prize 2009
  • A Ned Kelly Hymnal (A Paper Special Edition/Cherry on the Top Press, 2008)*
  • Trans (The Collective Press, Wales, 2005)
  • The Dade County Book of the Dead (NPF, 1995)
  • Minus Twenty-Seven: Three Poems for a Russian New Year (Weasel, 1995)*
  • Strange Tongues (Weasel Productions, 1994)
  • Esau’s Children (NPF, 1991)
  • Himalayan Fish (Peacock Books, Orissa, India, 1991)


Commissions and Collaborations / Humber Writer projects 

  • Incoming  (Hull City Council, Humber Mouth Literature Festival Commission 2014)
  • Slipway (Wordquake Commision, East Riding of Yorkshire 2013) book and film.
  • Under Travelling Skies: Departures from Larkin (Kingston Press / Larkin25 Words Award Winner 2012) book and film on DVD.
  • Sketches, Dispatches, Hull Tales and Ballads (Kingston Press / Humber Mouth Literature Festival Major Commission 2012).
  • Postcards from Hull, book and a series of postcards, which includes paintings and photographs by Cliff (with John Wedgwood Clarke, Ray French, Kath McKay, Carol Rumens, David Wheatley and others: Hull City Council, 2010)
  • Hide book, which also includes paintings by Cliff (with John Wedgwood Clarke, Ray French, Kath McKay, Carol Rumens, David Wheatley and others: Hull City Council, 2007)
  • Drift book and film (with David Kennedy, Simon Kerr, Christopher Reid and David Kennedy: Hull City Council, 2008)
  • Architexts book (with David Kennedy, Christopher Reid and David Wheatley: Hull City Council, 2007)

Slipway bookSlipway filmUnder Travelling Skies filmUTSSketcheshidecover



  • Drift (Humber Mouth Literature Festival Special Commission 2008) featuring poems by Cliff Forshaw, David Kennedy, Christopher Reid and David Wheatley; music by Amanda Lowe. DVD accompanying book. 20 mins.
  • Under Travelling Skies (Larkin25 Words Award Winner 2012) featuring poems by Mary Aherne, Cliff Forshaw, John Wedgwood Clarke, Kath McKay, Chreistopher Reid, Carol Rumens, Sarah Stutt, Malcolm Watson and David Wheatley; music by Katherine Sunlay, Bethan Jones. DVD accompanying book. 25 mins.
  • Slipway (Wordquake, Beverley Literary Festival Film Salon Commission 2013) featuring interviews / music by Roddie Harris.

 For ebooks / videos of all the above collaborations visit Creative Writing.

Papers and chapters in books include:

  • “All Protean forms in Venery: the textual and apparitional body in Marston’s Verse Satires”  in The Body in Late Medieval and Early Modern Culture, eds. N. Taunton & D. Grantley, Ashgate, 2000. pp 169-185.
  • “Cease Cease to bawle, thou wasp-stung Satyrist: Writers, Printers and the Bishops’ Ban of 1599.” EnterText Vol. 3. No. 1: Renaissance Renegotiations. Brunel University,  Spring 2003.
  • “ ‘Wanton Woord Or Matter Lewd’: Presenting Ovid in the Renaissance and Now.” in The Survival of Myth: Innovation, Singularity and Alterity, eds  Paul Hardwick & David Kennedy, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010.
  • “ ‘Of shapes transformde to bodies straunge’: Metamorphic Forms and Personae in Poems from Page to Performance.” in Contemporary Myth and the Construction of Identity, eds. Aminal Alyal and Paul Hardwick, Edwin Mellen Press, 2010.

As co-editor

  • "Poetry and Myth”, supplement co-edited with David Kennedy, Fulcrum: an annual of poetry and aesthetics, 6 (2008),  271-437


Much of Cliff's recent work has been involved with creative translation and the themes of place and natural history. His current project, which grew out of study leave and a residency at CAMAC (Centre d’Art Marnay-sur-Seine) in France, involves translations, adaptations, versions, perversions and transformations of classic European poems, including work from French (Gautier, de Nerval, Corbière, Laforgue, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Apollinaire and Michel Houellebecq); Spanish (Lorca, Vicente Aleixandre); Portuguese (Camões, Pessoa); German (Rilke) and Italian (Dante, d’Annunzio).

Cliff’s latest collection Pilgrim Tongues (Wrecking Ball, 2015) draws on explorations of the Yorkshire coast and its history, as well trips to Israel, California, Cambodia and Vietnam. Vandemonian (Arc, 2012) is a sort of fragmentary history of Tasmania, with poem sequences on the extinct Tasmanian tiger, the Tasmanian devil, and the last full-blood Tasmanian aboriginal Queen Trucanini. The book came out a period as writer-in-residence in Hobart.

Cliff's recent projects for the Humber Writers have explored Hull and the surrounding area, its history and maritime connections: Incoming (book, 2014). Slipway (book and film, Wordquake 2013); Under Travelling Skies; Departures from Larkin (book and film, Larkin25 Words award winner, Kingston Press 2012); Sketches, Dispatches, Hull Tales and Ballads (Humber Mouth Literature Festival Major Commission / Kingston Press 2012). for free downloads of Humber Writer collaborations visit Creative Writing4.

Cliff's academic research interests are in Renaissance satire, modern and contemporary poetry, translation and myth.


Convener of BA modules

  • 14182 Introduction to English Poetry (Level 4)
  • 14108 Writing through Voice and Form (Level 4)
  • 14109 Writing Poetry: Strategies, Craft and Imagination (Level 5)
  • 14085 Romantic Poets from Blake to Keats (Level 5)
  • 14137 Creative Writing: Poetry Portfolio (Level 6)

Convener of MA modules

  • Writing Poetry.

PhD supervision

Currently: one student combining creative writing with translation and a study of the idea of Heimat in German poetry. He has also supervised theses on Tony Harrison, Anne Stevenson and WH Auden. Cliff welcomes research proposals in the following areas: twentieth century / contemporary poetry; Renaissance satire; Ovidian literature and myth; translation.


  • Member of the Learning and Teaching Committee
  • Member of the Health and Safety Committee (Fire officer)
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