Cliff Fell is a poet, essayist, musician, book reviewer and broadcaster who was born in Hatch End, London in 1955, to a New Zealand father and an English mother. Before settling in New Zealand, Fell travelled widely, living and working in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He had a number of different jobs, including time spent as an archaeologist, film-maker, bank-clerk, truck-driver, and roadie.
A number of his poems can be found on and offline, notably in various Best New Zealand Poems anthologies and also the Griffith Review website. His poem ‘Ophelia’ was selected for Best New Zealand Poems 2003. ‘Motueka Song’, a radio-poem about the Motueka River was broadcast on National Radio. The New Zealand Poetry Society has described Cliff’s work as ‘ambitious, musical, and interesting’.
He is the author of three books of poems: His first collection, The Adulterer’s Bible was published by Victoria University Press in 2003. The Adulterer’s Bible received the 2002 Adam Prize in Creative Writing and the 2004 New Zealand Society of Authors Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry.
The title of The Adulterer’s Bible is taken from the notorious 1631 edition of the King James Bible in which the printer omitted the word ‘not’ from the seventh commandment. The book contains a number of interwoven narratives of adultery. In The Listener Peter Bland wrote that the collection is ‘amusing and inventive…rich sensual detail’ and called it ‘a fine first book’ that ‘signals both an interest in the accidental mysteries of language and a taste for the erotic’.
His second collection, Beauty of the Badlands (Victoria University Press, 2008) journeys from local contemplations of Ernest Rutherford’s birthplace in the Moutere hills, to a road-trip through Mexico and the south-west of the USA.
His most recent publication, The Good Husbandwoman’s Alphabet, is an illustrated chapbook created collaboratively with artist, Fiona Johnstone and photographer, Ivan Rogers.
Cliff has an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University. In 2015 he was a Teaching Fellow at the International Institute of Modern Letter in Wellington, convening the MA workshop in Poetry and Non-fiction. For some years he has also discussed poetry on Radio NZ National Nights. He has been a participant in national festivals, both as speaker, tutor and chair. He currently teaches part-time at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. He lives near Motueka, in the upper South Island.
Cliff is in the final stages of a new collection of poems.