Cliff Yates is the author of nine collections and chapbooks of poetry including including Henry’s Clock (Smith/Doorstop, 1999) which received the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was overall winner of the Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition. He received an Arts Council England Writers Award for Frank Freeman’s Dancing School (Salt, 2009) and an Arts Council England Grant for the Arts for Jam (Smith/Doorstop, 2016). Recent chapbooks: Birmingham Canal Navigation (Knives Forks and Spoons, 2020) and Another Last Word (Red Ceilings, 2021). A New and Selected Poems is forthcoming from Smith/Doorstop.
Cliff was commissioned to write Jumpstart Poetry in the Secondary School (Poetry Society) during his time as Poetry Society poet-in-residence following the success of his students in poetry competitions. He has published on creative writing in the Times Educational Supplement and other journals, and has published short stories, criticism and poetics.
TEACHING & RESIDENCIES
After teaching English in comprehensive schools in the North West, Cliff was Deputy Head and English teacher at Maharishi School in Skelmersdale where his students were particularly successful at winning poetry competitions including the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Awards, WH Smith Young Writers, TES Young Poet, and Young Poets on the Underground (details here). His teaching has been the subject of articles in the Guardian and the TES, and he has broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service. A former Poetry Society poet-in-residence and TES Guest Poet, he has taught creative writing in higher education and has led courses and workshops for many organisations including the Arvon Foundation, the Poetry Society, the British Council, the Poetry School, universities and schools in the UK and abroad. He is a former Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Aston University.
Cliff was born in Birmingham and grew up in Birmingham and Kidderminster. Leaving school at sixteen, he did a variety of jobs before returning to full-time education, gaining degrees from Swansea University and the University of Warwick. In 2006 he completed a PhD in Poetry & Poetics. He learnt Transcendental Meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in the 1970s, trained as a teacher and taught TM in England and Wales. He was a founder member of the Poetry & Poetics Research Group convened by Robert Sheppard at Edge Hill University.
‘Cliff Yates is one of my favourite poets, writing in an idiom I’d like to call “Skelmersdale Mystic/Domestic.” If he was in a band that band would produce hit singles that would linger in your head for years and if he was a greengrocer his vegetables would always be startling shapes. There’s childhood here, and love, and a way of seeing the world with the wrappers off that is, ultimately, Yatesian’ – Ian McMillan
‘the guru’ – Guardian