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Chris  Torrance

Here are some critical judgements of Chris Torrance's work:

“Written episodically over the past 35 years, Chris Torrance's exploration of myth and landscape in prose and

verse is a buried treasure. The Magic Door is the overall title of an ongoing long sequence in prose and verse

by Chris Torrance, a Scottish born, London-reared, resident of Wales, and is a work very much in the

tradition of Ezra Pound, David Jones, Charles Olson, and the Beats.

This is one of those very interesting works that have been quite systematically written out of the official view

of contemporary British poetry. If Torrance was American, he would be a cult figure. But he's British and

almost totally neglected". Billy Mills, The Guardian 2008

“His influence has been enormous on "unconventional" poets in South Wales, especially while he was running

his "Adventures in Creative Writing" class at Cardiff University. Poetry is a pulsing, vibrant thing to Chris

Torrance – he walks the walk - and moves in multiple contexts: the beats yes, open field, but also the

tradition of radical sublime from the bards through Blake to urban deejay vigour." Graham Hartill

“Working together since 1985, Torrance and Vine have developed a startlingly contemporary form of poetrywith-

music. No broody basses or folky acoustics here; these are versatile, muscular and lyrical soundscapes

which, while sidestepping obvious definitions, are influenced by rock, rap, free improvisation and European

art music". Planet: The Welsh Internationalist

Chris Torrance writes

I am Scots born, but by the late 40's my family had moved to the London area. I left school at 15 and worked for law firms in London and Surrey before giving up hte law in 1965 to concentrte on my writing. This resulted from my meeting a bunch of other young people in Carshalton known as the mob, with whom I collaborated in publishing a magazine called ORIGINS DIVERSIONS.   By now I was working as a labourer for the Parks Department.

I could have been a   musician, I supposed, but that wasn't encouraged at home.   As far as I was concerned, postrey could be like jazz, be close to that spirit of boldly improvising on a theme.   To do that I needed technique, structure & direction.   In this connection my meetings with Lee Harwood through the small magazine network was hugely influential.  Lee worked in Better Books, in Charing Cross Roadm & was able to intorduce me to the work of many new poets who  were appearing on the scene.   The other big influence was the famous anthology THE NEW AMERICAN POETRY 1945- 60 edited by Don Allen. It was here that I found the poetics I needed.

I met Val, my wife-to-be, at an evening class (on T.S.Eliot) in 1966. We got married during a 3 year stay in Bristol. By 1970 we were living in an isolated farmhouse in Wales & learning how to be self-sufficient.  I began the long serial poem THE MAGIC DOOR, which continues to the present day

Val left in 1976, & we agreed to an amicable divorce.  Although I considered leaving the farmhouse, the pull of the garden anchored me, & later that year I was offered a part time job as a tutor of Creative writing at UC Cardiff, a class that became ADVENTURES IN CREATIVE WRITING.  This in turn led to performance-orientated activities of CABARET 246, & the publishing of over a dozen issues of CABARET 246 magazine, published by Red Shark Press.

I met musician-composer Chris Vine in the mid-1980s, with whom I formed the poetry& music band POETHEAT, later to be renamed HEATPOETS. The Thatcher years were in full swing, & much of what I wrote then was fuelled by the events of those years, often angry poems utilising the phrophetic tones of voice I had heard Allen Ginsberg using, and later Anne Waldman.

ADVENTURES IN CREATIVE WRITING finished in 2001, but HEATPOETS have remained active, with albums on CD & other formats, & live performances. I wrote a piece on the influence of jazz on my poetry for online mag JUNCTION BOX in 2012. A mini-autobiography appears in CUSP (Shearsman Press 2012) a cmpliation edited by Geraldine Monk which has contributions from many other UK poets.  My new publisher, Sam Ward (Skyshill Press) has nnounced the publication of my book PATH, containing over 25 years of work, early in 2013

HEATPOETS current CD and booklet contains a highly compressed version of my book, RORI: A BOOK OF THE BOUNDARIES, the extended version of which will appear in PATH.  The theme of RORI is of one of those giants of the landscape who figure in myth and legend. The giant is a wise fool who at first succeeds  Then he is tmpted. He falls, is pronounced dead; he dreams of the tomb, then - perhaps like Osiris, he resurrects  The CD of RORI by HEATPOETS UB obtainable for £12 - contact


Copyright Chris Torrance. 

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Poem by Chris

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