The UK’s Poet Laureate from 1999 -2009, Andrew Motion is a world-renowned poet and an acclaimed academic, biographer and novelist. Motion began his career teaching English at the University of Hull where he met and befriended the poet Philip Larkin, later becoming his official biographer. His book Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life won the Whitbread Prize for Biography and was instrumental in reviving Larkin’s reputation and popularity.
A passionate life-long campaigner for greater visibility for poetry in everyday life, Motion was Editorial Director and Poetry Editor at Chatto & Windus, edited the Poetry Society's Poetry Review and founded the Poetry Archive. His own work focuses on themes of memory, grief and the experience of war and his collections include Dangerous Play (which won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize), Natural Causes (which won the Dylan Thomas Prize), The Custom’s House, Peace Talks, The Cinder Path and Coming Home.
Motion’s other works include biographies of Keats and Robert Graves, the autobiographical works In the Blood, Ways of Life: On Places, Painters and Poets, Essex Clay and the novels The Invention of Dr. Cake, Silver: Return to Treasure Island and The New World. Motion is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was knighted for his services to literature in 2009. .
Andrew Motion's prose memoir In the Blood was widely acclaimed. Now, twelve years later and three years after moving to live and work in the United States, Motion looks back once more to recreate a stunning biographical sequel - but this time in verse. Essex Clay rekindles, expands and gives a tragic resonance to subjects that have haunted the poet throughout his writing life. In the first part, he tells the story of his mother's riding accident, long unconsciousness and slow death; in the second, he remembers the end of his father's life; and in the third, he describes an encounter that deepens the poem's tangled themes of loss and memory and retrieval.
Although the prevailing mood of the poem has a Tennysonian sweep and melancholy, its wealth of physical details and its narrative momentum make it as compelling as a fast-paced novel: a settling of accounts which admits that final resolutions are impossible.