With Cornwall’s prime autumn surfing season in full swing, a fresh new poetry anthology Mordardh (Cornish for ‘breaking wave’) has been published that explores surfing and the significance it has in surfers’ lives.

Authored by women’s poetry collective Mor Poets, Mordardh comprises more than 40 poems that creatively capture the relationship that Cornwall’s surfers have with the sea, their personal experiences of surfing and the irresistible pull of the waves.

Photos: Alice Bray

you are on
a surfboard going along a wave except
surfing is so much more than that

–    From ‘Surf Lesson’ by Fi Read, Mordardh

The collection is curated by Ella Walsworth-Bell and includes the poetry of Fi Read, Morag Smith, Hannah Temme, Kerry Vincent, Ulrike Duran Bravo, Kate Barden and Megan Chapman. Stunning images by marine photographer Alice Bray accompany the poems throughout the book.

To create the anthology the eight Mor poets tracked down surfers from across Cornwall and talked to them about their stories, memories and philosophies of wave riding. They then created poems based on these surfers’ words and voices. The result is a wonderful, diverse celebration of surfing and the sea that also incorporates themes of family, memory, healing, escape and Cornwall.

The reasons for paddling out are as myriad as the surfers themselves, with the poems inspired by a variety of people across the county who take to the waves, including police officers, artists, stone wallers, DJs and retired mortgage brokers.

Their experiences are all captured on the page, from “a life spent watching ripples”[i] and the transcendent feeling of “being lifted, held in that tunnel of blue light”[ii] to “tundra cold/useless thumbs”[iii] and the “accusatory glare of my unfed wetsuit”[iv].

Mor Poets have launched a Crowdfunder to support the printing of the Mordardh anthology, offering rewards in return for donations. Rewards start at £5, with the option to donate a copy of the book to a local library in Cornwall for £9. Mordardh is also available to pre-order from the Cornwall Writers website. Copies will be issued from the end of September.

Mor Poets founder Ella Walsworth-Bell says:
“To create this book, we tracked down surfers in vans, pubs, cafes and on the water and listened to their stories. The resulting poems aim to share these voices and some of the pizzazz and motion that surfers experience in the waves. We also hope this collection brings a wider audience to poetry, and encourages more people to encase themselves in neoprene and jump into the sea with a board to experience the poetry of surfing for themselves.”

Mor Poets have run a series of live spoken word performances and workshops across Cornwall this Autumn and there’s one more event left,  The Writers Block in Redruth (21st November).

Mor Poets is an Arts Council England-funded women’s poetry collective founded by Ella Walsworth-Bell from Falmouth, combining her love of the sea and poetry. Mordardh is the Mor Poets’ second book, following the publication of their sea swimming poetry anthology ‘Morvoren’ in 2022.

To donate to the Mordardh: Surf Poetry Crowdfunder click here.

Find them on socials below.