Katrina Porteous interviews for Rhizodont

Katrina Porteous interviews for Rhizodont


'Rhizodont does for the mining and fishing communities of post-Thatcher Northumberland what Heaney did for mid century Mid-Ulster, archiving the vast richness of its language, culture and work-lives. Porteous’ painterly eye for detail gives depth and resonance to the histories and dramas of her human and non-human subjects alike.' – Dave Coates, Poetry Book Society Summer Bulletin 2024 (Summer Reading)


Katrina Porteous's fourth poetry collection, Rhizodont, was published by Bloodaxe in June 2024. Katrina launched her new book in person at Barter Books in Alnwick on 24 June and online with Bloodaxe Books on 26 June 2024. Scroll down for details of Bloodaxe's online reading and discussion event.

Rhizodont follows Katrina Porteous's third collection Edge (2019), which gathered together poems from her scientific collaborations. Her two earlier collections, The Lost Music (1996) and Two Countries (2014), were concerned with the landscapes and communities of North-East England.  All four collections are published by Bloodaxe Books.

Poet and historian Katrina Porteous was born in Aberdeen, and grew up in County Durham.  She has lived on the Northumberland coast since 1987.  In 2021 Katrina received a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors.  The Cholmondeley Awards recognise the achievement and distinction of individual poets.



New Writing North, New & Recent Poetry from the North: Summer 2024, online 14 June 2024

Good reviews of new collections by Cumbrian poet Helen Farish and Northumberland’s Katrina Porteous were included in Will Mackie’s Summer 2024 New and Recent Poetry from the North feature, which went online on the New Writing North website on 14 June. 

Rhizodont is the new book from Katrina Porteous. This detailed and wide-ranging collection, while rooted in the North East, explores global landscapes and themes of ecology and community.’
– Will Mackie, New & Recent Poetry from the North: Summer 2024

Write Out Loud, online Tuesday 25 June 2024

A review of Katrina Porteous’s fourth collection Rhizodont was featured in Write Out Loud following her in-person launch in Alnwick at Barter Books on 24 June, where Katrina was in conversation with Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley. Greg Freeman was in the audience.

‘What are we doing to the planet? What is technology doing to us? These are the common themes, according to the poet herself, within the new collection of poetry by Katrina Porteous, who might well be described as the laureate of the Northumberland coast.’ – Greg Freeman, Write Out Loud



A review of Katrina Porteous's reading in Wooler on 15 April 2023 is featured in Write Out Loud here.  'Under the Ice' was her fifth and final collaboration with the late composer Peter Zinovieff.  The sequence is now published in her fourth collection Rhizodont (2024).



The QT, online Thursday 20 June 2024

An interview with Katrina Porteous went online in The QT on 20 June ahead of the launch of her fourth poetry collection Rhizodont at Barter Books in Alnwick on Monday 24 June 2024.

‘Poet Katrina Porteous explains the concerns underpinning her new collection, Rhizodont, to David Whetstone’. The article is subscriber only.




The Friday Poem, online Friday 1 September 2023 and Friday 7 June 2024

An interview with Katrina Porteous went online in The Friday Poem on 1 September 2023.  She was speaking to Rowan Bell about her forthcoming collection Rhizodont, which is published by Bloodaxe in June 2024, and about the fishing community on the Northumberland coast. The piece is illustrated with several photographs of Katrina taken with the fishermen about whom she has written in her first two collections The Lost Music (1996) and Two Countries (2014).


'Rhizodont is about survival and extinction within cultures, communities and languages, as well as in the natural world.' – Rowan Bell, The Friday Poem

A follow-up interview in TFP was published online on 7 June 2024 to mark the book's publication. Rowan Bell was talking to Katrina Porteous about the power of dialect words, and about writing for radio.  Read here.




The Susurrations of the Sea, BBC Radio 4, Thursday 15 December 2022, 11.30am (repeated Monday 19 December 2022, 4pm)

Poet Katrina Porteous wrote a new sequence of poems especially for this stunning BBC Radio 4 feature broadcast on 15 December.  The programme interwove Katrina's poems with sounds of the sea, reflections of those who listen to them intently - including a visually impaired surfer and a herring fisherman - and with extracts from Benjamin Britten's Four Sea Interludes from his opera Peter Grimes.  The programme is a collaboration between Katrina Porteous and BBC Radio producer Julian May.  The poems responding to the sounds of the sea are now published in her fourth collection Rhizodont (on pages 13, 14, 53, 96-7 and 112).

The Susurrations of the Sea is a collaboration between the poet Katrina Porteous, who lives right next to the North Sea in Beadnell, Northumberland; radio producer Julian May, who grew up close to the Atlantic in Cornwall; and with the sea itself. They gather the variety of its sounds, from gentle susurrations as the tide moves over mud, to the steady roar of surf and mighty waves crashing onto rocks. They weave these with the words of people who, more than most of us, listen to these sounds. Melissa Reid is a visually impaired competitive surfer at Porthtowan in Cornwall. The writer Lara Messersmith-Glavin grew up on a salmon seiner, fishing out of Kodiak Island, Alaska. Lara recalls how the sounds of the sea brought fear as well the comfort. David Woolf, in Orkney, who works on wave energy projects, tells the life story of a wave, and considers the role of the oceans in the climate crisis. Stephen Perham, rowing his picarooner out of Clovelly harbour, shows how, when fishing for herring without an engine or any modern equipment, learning the sounds of the sea is essential.

The susurrations of the sea are culturally important, finding their way into language and music. At his piano the musician Martin Pacey illustrates how Benjamin Britten captures these in his Sea Interludes, and how these reflect mood and character. For Stephen and Katrina the words people use to describe that sea are themselves sea susurrations. Katrina writes a new sequence of poems in response to the sounds of the sea and these run through the programme like breaking waves, a choppy sea and an ocean swell.’

The programme was one of the Radio Times's Today's Choices for 15 December 2022.

Listen via BBC Sounds here.





Online launch reading by Matt Howard and Katrina Porteous

This online launch reading by Matt Howard and Katrina Porteous, celebrating the publication of their new poetry collections, was livestreamed on 26 June 2024 and is now available on YouTube. They read from their new collections and discussed them with each other and with the host, Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley.  A fascinating discussion about writing about the natural world and rural communities.  Katrina read first in each set.  The readings were followed by the discussion.


[07 June 2024]

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