J.O. Morgan lives on a small farm in the Scottish Borders. He is the author of five collections of poetry, each a single book-length poem: Natural Mechanical (2009), which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, its sequel, Long Cuts (2011), shortlisted for the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Award, At Maldon (2013), shortlisted for the Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year Award, In Casting Off and Interference Pattern, shortlisted for the 2016 T.S. Eliot Prize.
Assurances is an award-winning narrative poem, a story, a collection of words that funnels thought, tightens feelings, allows and encourages consideration. Assurances with its mix of verse and unversed passages is a poem about the threat of nuclear war, it is shocking, yet also quite beautiful as it looks from sky to earth, from bottom to top, from small to global. I started to read, and found myself reading out loud, feeling each word, the placement, the power. If you love poetry, you may have already come across J. O. Morgan, if you are uncertain, if you aren’t sure if poetry is for you then do step inside, let the words connect, allow yourself to explore. I adore the ‘as with’ sections, the daily, known, ordinary, opening up and allowing understanding of the military might, the standoff, the forever nature of nuclear weapons. Assurances flows, breaks, breathes, wounds, hurts, it is 48 pages of provocative and powerful, do read it.
**Finalist for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2022 ** From the Costa Award winner, a highly inventive and and humane novel about our relationship with technology and our addiction to innovation. 'Are they paying you extra for this? You'd better be getting something. For the inconvenience, I mean. Here for the whole weekend is what they said. What if we'd had guests? They never asked. And in any case what are the dangers? Being tested like lab rats, we are. Did they even try to provide any assurance it was all perfectly-' This is the prototype. The first step to a new future. A future that will be easy and abundant. A future in which distance is no longer a barrier to human contact. And all it takes is a simple transport unit, in every home, every street, every town. Quick. Clean. Easy. A future driven by data, not emotion. And so begins the journey of a new technology that will soon change the world and everyone in it - the sceptics and the converts, the innocents and the evangelists. A scientific wonder that quickly becomes an everyday aspect of life. But what of our inherent messiness? In a world preoccupied with progress, what will happen to the things that make us human: the memories, the fears, the love, the blood, the contradictions, the mortality? As we push for a sense of perfection, what do we stand to lose? Questioning, innovative and shot through with a rich humanity, Appliance is much more than a novel. It examines our faith in technology, our hunger for new things and the rapid changes affecting all our lives. It challenges us to stop and reflect on the future we want, the systems we trust, and what really matters to us.
**SHORTLISTED FOR THE TS ELIOT PRIZE 2020** From the winner of the Costa Poetry Award A lone martian returns to Earth. He leaves behind him a hardened survivalist culture, its muddled myths and songs, its continued abuse of the environment that sustains it. During this journey back to the now-broken and long-abandoned mother planet, the martian begins to consider his own uncertain origins, and his own future. Cut off from his people, the martian's story is that of the individual: his duty at odds with his desire; the race of which he's still a part playing always on his mind, as well as the race that once was. This is the story of what life becomes when stripped of all that makes it worth living - of what humans become when they lose their humanity. The Martian's Regress is a brilliant, provocative, often darkly comic work that explores what a fragile environment eventually makes of those who persist in tampering with it.
At first, these extraordinary poems may unsettle and disturb, but the next reading could be one of rapture and astonishment; it all hinges on your point of view. Like the optical illusion of the maiden and the crone, you can only see one image at a time; the brain deciding which is the figure and which the background. It is a book that acts out its own subjects - dualities, ambiguities, boundaries - through physical dislocation, through patterns of interference. This is a collage of many voices: eager or dispassionate, unreliable or matter-of-fact - depending, as with everything else, on your angle of entry. Some of the voices fear involvement; some are afraid of doing nothing; some, perhaps, have already gone too far. Like the image on the cover, these pieces shimmer and buzz in their own instability. Is this punishment or reward? What is the yellow smoke? Will there be bodies floating under the plastic pool-cover? Are we, like the hotel manager, seeing visions? Volatile, troubling, but endlessly interesting, these poems show J. O. Morgan working and compressing language into a precarious, frictional state. As a result, Interference Pattern is a unique reading experience: vivid, challenging and completely original.