Harry Man

United Kingdom

Harry Man (b. 1982) holds an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. Winner of the 2014 Bridges of Struga Award, his first pamphlet Lift (Tall Lighthouse) was nominated for 'Best Pamphlet' in the 2014 Sabotage Awards. The previous year he won second prize in the PEN International Made Up Words Competition and third prize in the Cardiff International Poetry Competition. Man’s work has been widely anthologised, most recently in The Emma Press Anthology of Fatherhood, Coin Opera 2 and Rewiring History. Lift has garnered praise from T. S. Eliot Award winners Sinéad Morrissey and George Szirtes, the latter stating, "The poems are packed to bursting with ideas... Harry Man is one of a young generation of poets defining their own ground and changing ours."


In Britain, Harry Man stands out a new and exciting voice, tackling scientific and urbane themes with electric language, lyricism and humour – whether imagining the Facebook page of the planet Earth as it moves from era to era, "Microraptors, Hadrosaurs, Flowering Plants and Massive Asteroid joined the network 'Goodness Cretaceous Great Ball of Fire,'" or drawing out the love story at the heart of a tale of missing identity, "Sue / there are days I don’t believe in doubles or daydreams / when you’re behind every windscreen of every car coming the other way." This is Simon Armitage’s Zoom remade for the 21st Century, as the planet "turns in the depths / like a cat’s eye limned / by a distant headlight." "A valuable trait of Man's poetry is the audacity through which he manages to find a poetic way in, including seemingly non-poetic topics through his linguistic games and a neo-avant-garde style, which makes his poetry direct, communicative and of current interest." (Slave Gjorgo Dimoski, Chairman, Struga Poetry Evenings).

 

Harry Man has collaborated with his long term partner, the contemporary dance choreographer Jennifer Essex for The London College of Fashion as well as a number of fellow poets, including a long-standing series with the poet Kirsten Irving as part of S. J. Fowler’s 'Camarades' and 'Auld Enemies' projects.

 

Starting out as a spoken work performer in 2003, Man’s work might well "owe a debt to spoken word poetry" (The Journal) but if it does, then it is also interested in others who have straddled page and stage such as Alice Oswald and Glyn Maxwell, his mentor. An environmental thread runs through his work. Man has written about the steep collapse in British nightingale populations, as well as the Norfolk Hawker, an endangered dragonfly, red-listed on the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan. In late 2014, he curated an ecologically-focussed poetry reading in London’s Poetry Café, with readers including Inua Ellams, Holly Corfield Carr, Tom Chivers and Karen McCarthy Woolf. The same year, Harry Man was awarded a Grant for the Arts from Arts Council England to produce new work on endangered species throughout the UK. His new pamphlet from Sidekick Books, titled Finders Keepers, is a collaboration with Sophie Gainsley and is due to be published in late 2015.

 

"The poems themselves have been created from the raw material of interviews with conservationists and residents local to the area in which each species – each beetle, tree, bat, bee, fish, moss and dragonfly and so on lives... there’s so much on the UK’s biodiversity action plan list that when I first went through it, it made an incredibly strong impression – nature doesn’t have a PR man in a thick pink kipper tie giving you the hard sell – there’s no such thing, no spokesperson, you really have to go out into the wilds and traipse around, leave the front door, get muddy, get up to your knees in the water and the bog and the reeds and see for yourself... I’m really thrilled to be working with Sophie [Gainsley]. She illustrates an award-winning online poetry journal over here called Poems in Which and they’ve published work by poets including Mark Waldron, Claire Trévien, Rebecca Tamas and Chrissy Williams... I saw some of her illustrations, and they’re so intricately drawn, with a sense of personality that doesn’t feel strained or anthropocentric – they make you double-take and pause, and take your time. Sophie was very interested in doing something about endangered species and so when we did meet, we’d barely said hello before we were already onto the subject of the types of crayfish living in London canals... It will be a very important, very urgent thing to have done, and special to own, and I’m very lucky to have received the funding from the Arts Council, and proud to be working on it."