J.O Morgan lives on a small farm in the Scottish Borders. He is the author of six collections of poetry, each a single book-length poem. His first, Natural Mechanical (CB Editions, 2009), won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was shortlisted for the Forward First Collection Prize; its sequel, Long Cuts (CB Editions, 2011), was shortlisted for a Scottish Book Award. In 2015, Morgan published in Casting Off (HappenStance Press), a poem-novella that explores local traditions within a remote fishing community. A year later, Interference Pattern (Cape Poetry) was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.  Assurances (Cape, 2018) was a new work at the time of Morgan’s recordings for the Poetry Archive, exploring the RAF’s involvement with maintaining the Nuclear Deterrent in the early years of the Cold War.

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.

Poems by J.O. Morgan

from ‘At Maldon’ - J.O. Morgan

Books by J.O. Morgan



Poetry Book Society Recommendation – Natural Mechanical

Prize website

Aldeburgh First Collection Prize for 'Natural Mechanical'


Costa Poetry Award for 'Assurances'

Prize website

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