SAMARA by Graham Mort and Claire Jefferson

Samara is a collection of Graham Mort’s poetry and illustrations by Claire Jefferson. Samara is the name for a winged seed and also a girl’s name, originating in Arabic and Hebrew, that can be translated as under the protection of God. It’s the name of cities with ancient cultures in Russia and Iraq and the name of a river that flows into the Volga. One translation of the word is summer water and it also carries the additional, wonderfully rich meaning of companion in night talk, with its intimation of prayer or poetry.

This accomplished collaboration between poet and artist celebrates the natural environment, engaging with both the liminal spaces and the creatures which inhabit them. Claire Jefferson’s exquisite illustrations capture the essence of her subjects and underpin the keen observations in Graham Mort’s poetry.

Mort’s poems open up new perspectives, discerning the often uneasy communion between humans and the natural world and  inviting us to look again. In Samara words and pictures interweave to create a chronicle which elevates the familiar to something extraordinary and alluring.

Graham Mort lives in North Yorkshire and is emeritus professor of Creative Writing at Lancaster University. He has published ten collections of poetry and three collections of short fiction, including collaborations with visual artists – A Halifax Cider Jar (Yorkshire Arts Circus, 1987) and Into the Ashes (Littlewood Press, 1988) His first book, A Country on Fire, gained a major Eric Gregory Award and he has won prizes in the Arvon and Cheltenham poetry competition as well as a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. His latest book of poetry is Black Shiver Moss (Seren, 2017) and his short fiction collection Like Fado and Other Stories appeared from Salt in 2021.

Claire Jefferson is a retired interior designer whose designs have been featured in several magazines, including 25 Beautiful Homes and 25 Beautiful Kitchens. She has also studied Illustration, and Fashion and Textiles, (winning the Fashion Prize for the Best Student in the Year) Claire lives in SW France where she paints the landscape with its backdrop of the Pyrenees. Her paintings have sold as far afield as New Zealand and across Europe. As her poetry alter ego, Stella Wulf, she has two poetry pamphlets, After Eden (4Word Press) and the illustrated A Spell in the Woods (Fair Acre Press) plus a forthcoming children’s book, And the Sea Whispered (Runcible Spoon Press) As co-editor of 4Word Press, Claire also designs the covers and the cover art.

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