About J.O. Morgan
J.O. Morgan lives on a small farm in the Scottish Borders, having lived and worked on numerous farms in the past, both in the British Isles and abroad. He is the author of three collections of poetry, each a single book-length poem. Natural Mechanical (CB Editions, 2009), which won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, is an account of a wayward childhood on the Isle of Skye: a dyslexic boy, fearful of his home life and shunning conventional schooling, uses his gift for improvisatory communication with the natural world to construct his own unique education. Its sequel, Long Cuts (2012), picks up the boy’s story as he moves into adulthood, travelling the world, and responding to life’s opportunities and contingencies with the same spirit of resourcefulness and exuberance.
Morgan’s third book is At Maldon (2014). The poem takes its bearings from remnants of the Old English epic ‘The Battle of Maldon’, re-imagining the short, brutal battle that took place on the Essex coast in the year 991, when a rabble army of Anglo-Saxons gathered to defend against Viking raiders. The work adheres to a basic narrative structure, while allowing the account of those who fell and those who ran to find convincing and unforced reverberations in the contemporary world. This sensitivity to the deep echo chambers of the English language, a rare alertness to the presence of history in ordinary speech, has earned Morgan’s work comparisons with Logue’s Homer, and widespread acclaim. His reading of the poem, introduced and excerpted here, is immediately compelling and utterly engrossing.
“At Maldon, J. O. Morgan’s version of the Old English poem ‘The Battle of Maldon’, has all the clash and clang of War Music, and the same odd modernism to bring you up short” – TLS ‘Books of the Year’
J.O. Morgan's full recital of 'At Maldon' is only available on a special limited edition CD from CB Editions.
This recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 27 May 2014 at soundhouse and was produced by Anne Rosenfeld.