Katrina Porteous

Category: 1980s /  All Harkness Stories /  Creative Arts, Design & Architecture /  Humanities / 

Katrina Porteous (HF 1982-84) , poet, grew up near Consett, Co Durham, and read History at Trinity Hall Cambridge. She was awarded a Harkness Fellowship in 1982 to study creative writing, and spent her first year at UC Berkeley, where her tutors included Thom Gunn and Robert Pinsky, and her second at Harvard, where her tutor was Seamus Heaney. In the months between she travelled widely, spending formative time in Native American Pueblo and Hopi communities in the South West, and in rural areas of the Southern states. This experience politicised her work, sharpening her sense of the interconnections between people, landscape, history and the natural world. Attempting an academic career after that was a mistake. In 1987 she moved to her grandparents’ house on the Northumberland coast, where she embedded herself in the dwindling traditional fishing community. An awareness of the universal importance of small-scale, sustainable local culture and ecology, which has informed her work ever since, resulted directly from her American travels. Katrina has published several poetry collections with Bloodaxe Books, including The Lost Music, Two Countries and Edge (poems for a planetarium). She received a Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 1989, an Arts Council Writers’ Award in 1993 and an Arts Foundation Award in 2002. She is President of the Northumbrian Language Society and an ambassador for New Networks for Nature. In 1999 she accompanied two Northumbrian shepherd poets to the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Nevada, and in 2014 performed her own work at the Fisher Poets’ Gathering in Oregon.