Mordardh Surf Poetry


From the creators of Morvoren: the poetry of sea swimming comes a fresh new poetry anthology. Mordardh, Cornish for breaking wave, explores surfing and what it means to surfers living in Cornwall.

With photography by Alice Bray, this collection is curated by Ella Walsworth-Bell. Authors are: Fi Read, Morag Smith, Hannah Temme, Kerry Vincent, Ulrike Duran Bravo, Kate Barden and Megan Chapman.

‘This anthology picked me up and carried me like my first wave, it spoke of fear, devotion and love. Most powerfully, it spoke of the sea in all her moods, words written by women for whom waves form the sometimes roaring, sometimes gentle, rhythm of their lives.’ – Mike Lay, Editor of Wavelength surf magazine

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Mor Poets are a group of women poets who have talked to surfers across Cornwall. In coastal communities, what brings people out – dressed in neoprene, board under arm – and gets them into the water? There must be some kind of magic in the waves. Mor Poets explored how surfing gives a kick; how breaking waves are ridden and how surfers benefit both mentally and physically.

Talking to surfers was the first step. Creating poetry in their words and voices was the second. Mor Poets enlisted marine photographer, Alice Bray, to gain a series of stunning images to enhance and add to the poetry.

This is a fantastic set of stories, told through poetry and photographs.

Mordardh (Cornish for ‘breaking wave’) has benefited from Arts Council England support to ride the crest of our wave.

As part of this project, Mor Poets will also be running live spoken word performance events across Cornwall: Newquay, St Agnes, Sennen, Falmouth, Penzance…we’ll be there and we want to share.

Who is involved?

Megan Chapman AKA MCMC Spoken is a lyrical rhyming wizard. Her unique rhythmic style and cutting content offers a mesmerising performance. Her poetic and hip-hop delivery infused with beats strings and vocals is beautifully raw and captures humanity. ‘surfing centres my world; mindfully offering daily happiness and freedom. The best part of everyday and for me it is life’s main reason.’

Ulrike Duran Bravo currently lives and works on Scilly. With an MA in Creative Writing, she writes both poetry and short stories, published in the Cornwall Writers anthologies and The London Review and she has had a short play performed at The Berry Theatre. From a mixed German-Chilean heritage, she’s found her place swimming in cold Atlantic waters.

Although she grew up in Australia, Fi Read caught her first wave in Cornwall. A surf-taxi mum, she figured she might as well join in, buying herself a secondhand surfboard for her fortieth birthday. Seventeen years later, she still surfs like a kook, despite three of her four kids being surf instructors. Nurse, bar staff, life model, singer and writer, Fi cycles everywhere and can back-flip into water.

Hannah Temme is a spoken-word performer, dancer and producer based in Newquay. She works to create community spaces for the development of local poets and platforming of professional artists to cultivate an artistic scene on the North Cornish coast. Living in the surf capital of the UK, and a surfer herself, Hannah has used this project to explore how surfing is integrated into everyday life in Newquay, to some as necessary as breathing.

Kerry Vincent is a mother of nine from Constantine, a little village between Helston and Falmouth. She has written rhyming, rhythmic verse since childhood, but her real love is performing spoken word. She has written a pantomime, plays, and had a collection of poetry published in 2009, as well as contributing to anthologies.

Ella Walsworth-Bell is an NHS speech therapist working within children’s mental health. She took an adult education evening class in creative writing and hasn’t looked back since. Every year, she lives aboard a boat with her family and this reconnects her to nature. She got her trusty body board and fins out of retirement for this project.

Alice Bray is a passionate visual storyteller. The focus of her work aims to inspire others by capturing human relationships with nature, in particular the ocean. Alice has grown up in the sea through surf lifesaving so it’s only natural her photographic work is based around a place she feels most attached to. A lot of her work is taken in the water where there is limited control of the changing environment, so she must adapt, work with nature, and capture the beauty that is happening in the moment.

Kate Barden has lived in West Cornwall all her life, and is embarrassed to confess that she has only tried surfing twice. Her poetry is published online, in a book for The Compassionate Friends and as part of Morvoren; a collaboration of poems about women who swim in the sea. Kate occasionally sings in an 80s covers band, collects tattoos, swims in the sea and rides pillion on a Harley. Since starting this project, she has decided to give surfing a proper go (dreckly).


‘poets eight: fascinate; surf’s their topic: allotropic; items: fifty; layout: nifty;

 but beware: rhymes are spare!’ – Ken George, Cornish Bard

‘This is an exhilarating anthology of transformative poems inspired by surfing. The poems are elemental and celebratory, full of affirmation and energy. The sea is the patron saint of these surfer-poets, who find language fit to tell their thrilling tales. A highly recommended anthology!’– Penelope Shuttle

‘A collection that captures beautifully the sheer thrill of catching a wave and what it means to be a surfer on this peninsula today in all its messy complexity.’ – Wyl Menmuir


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