© Image by Hanna Burton

Stephanie Norgate

(b. 1957)

"I look away, but it draws my eye./The water inside me wants it./My hand wants to write it." from 'Irrigator in the Far Field' by Stephanie Norgate.

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These poems come from a special recording for the Poetry Archive:

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Select bibliography

  • Fireclay Smith/Doorstep, 1998
  • Hidden River Bloodaxe Books, 2008
  • Stephanie Norgate Reading from her Poems, The Poetry Archive 2009
Stephanie Norgate was born in 1957 and grew up in Selborne, Hampshire. She spent part of her childhood reading the naturalist Gilbert White and playing in his house and garden, which impelled an early love of nature and of writing. She read English and Latin literature at the universities of Warwick and Oxford and has worked for the Arvon Foundation as a Centre Director, on the Management Committee at Totleigh Barton and later on the Arvon Council of Management. Norgate has worked at the University of Chichester for 13 years, where she is a Senior Lecture and runs the MA in Creative Writing.

Her first writing success came as a playwright : The Greatest Gift won a Radio Times Drama Award in 1989 and since then her scripts have been serialised on Woman's Hour (BBC), and have received readings and performances in many leading theatres. In 1998 she found success as a poet with Fireclay - winner of a Poetry Business pamphlet award. Heralded by John Walsh in the Independent as the work of "a marvelous new poet" and praised by Vicki Feaver for her "lyrical voice", Norgate's poems explore how: "the precariousness of human experience is balanced by a precisely observed vision of the natural world."

Norgate sees a connection between writing dialogue and writing poetry. She explains: "Radio uses the voice in a similar way to poetry." She also sees a kinship in the way the two mediums function, saying: "poetry and drama have intensity and crystallisation in common, as well as subtext."

Stephanie Norgate's first full length collection Hidden River (2008), was shortlisted for both the Forward First Collection Prize and the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. These poems make invisible inners world concrete and examine our sensuous contact with each other and with nature. Norgate writes movingly on the private rituals of birth, love and loss and how they seem to ghost themselves onto the internal and external landscape.

In this Archive recording you can hear the poignant: 'A perfect example of a paralysed larynx' which is written in response to her father's trip to hospital as a cancer patient. Norgate's illuminating introduction is an interesting examination of the way a poet's mind works, and how much of a poem is unconsciously constructed.

This recording was made on the 11th December, 2008 at the Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.

Stephanie Norgate's Favourite Poetry Sayings:

"Darkness always behind my pages. That's why my letters shine so brightly. " - From 'Monochords' by Yannis Ritsos, translated by Paul Merchant

"The poetry of earth is never dead. " - from 'On the Grasshopper' and Cricket by John Keats

"Poetry is the fox under our shirts that gnaws away at our hearts. Outside, we stand firm, inside, we are altered forever. " - Charles Wright from the introduction to 'The Best American Poetry 2008' (Scribner Poetry 2008)

"I like what vamped me / In my youth: / Tune, argument, / Colour, truth." - Kit Wright (from 'Poetry')


Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2008 (shortlist)

Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2008. (shortlist)

Poetry Business Prize (Winner)

Radio Times Drama Award

Arts Council England Writers Award

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