|Shortlisted for Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Award (Poetry) 2012
Dust from a frayed envelope
flecking the wet of her hair.
Gone walkabout in the Antipodes.
A way of life that suits him to a tee.
Can’t say for sure when he’ll be coming back.
An apprenticeship, a first motorbike, knocking about the world (Canada, Hong Kong, South Africa, Australia, Fiji), loving and being loved and moving on – as Rocky moves into adulthood, Long Cuts tracks a life made distinctive by its rich vitality and resourcefulness, qualities that are matched in its telling.
‘Long Cuts is every bit as fine as Natural Mechanical, in some respects better: sharper descriptions, richer language, more assured versification. I loved it.’
– Christopher Reid
‘A sequel equal to the seemingly matchless Natural Mechanical, a former PBS Recommendation and Aldeburgh Poetry Prize winner, Long Cuts depicts “further wanderings in the life of Iain Seoras Rockcliffe”, as Nature Boy turns man, striking his native wit on the edge of the wider world, sparking like flint on stone. A bravura performance of poetic ventriloqusim, Morgan transcribes Rocky’s hard-won voice into hard-spun verse as vital and varied as the hero’s own freewheeling adventures.’
– Poetry Book Society Bulletin
‘Rocky is a chancer and adventurer, both led and leader, his life almost as fabulous as that of a certain other Rocky . . . Long Cuts is a book of human connections and missed connections, of love and missed opportunities to show love, and is as compressed, free-flowing, rambunctious, tender and at times unapologetically unrefined as its predecessor.’
– Rory Waterman, Times Literary Supplement
‘This is an adventure story, as varied in form and style as are Rocky’s escapades. One of the delights of the book is Morgan’s assured use of form and language: rhythms, internal rhymes, assonance, alliteration, enjambement, line-endings; sentences fluid and lyrical . . . Rocky’s story – or stories – is told dispassionately and it is this unsentimental approach which allows us to empathise, to admire Rocky. We aren’t told how Rocky feels, we know him by his actions . . . Thus we follow Rocky’s attempts to sate his wanderlust – ultimately a loner, a free spirit, Rocky won’t (as yet) be tied down . . .’
– Linda Black, Long Poem Magazine
‘It is every bit as startling in its originality as Natural Mechanical.’
– Beverley Bie Brahic, Books of the Year, Times Literary Supplement
Long Cuts follows J. O. Morgan’s Natural Mechanical, which won the 2009 Aldeburgh Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Forward First Collection Prize and the Scottish Arts Council First Book Award. From reviews of that book:
‘Remarkable. A gem of a poem.’ – Simon Armitage
‘So vivid it is clearer than prose. If those who never touch poetry tried a few pages of this, they might become converts.’ – Rosemary Goring, Herald
‘Natural Mechanical is wonderful . . . By looking hard and exactly at particular things in a particular place, it speaks to everyone, everywhere.’ – Andrew Motion
‘A literally fabulous achievement’ – Times Literary Supplement