Captive Dragons/

The Shadow Thorns

CDs cover

Morrison writes in a rich, rhetorical Miltonic voice, heavy with anger and prophecy. Exploring the world of mental health, he ends up writing about the mental health of our world, and the real dragons of our time — bankers, politicians, speculators — who lay waste to everything they touch. Magnificent stuff. Andy Croft, The Morning Star


The anthology is highly enjoyable and will be of great interest to anyone interested in the relationship between creativity, mental illness and the institutional setting. It covers a diverse range of topics and ideas through a kaleidoscopic web of synecdoche, historical allusion and paradox and its interaction with breathlessly as freeflow consciousness; or, given the environment/subject matter, word salad. Incorporating the whole lexicon of mental illness, the dragon mind-monsters (as any magician will tell you: we see what we tell ourselves to see) manifest themselves in habits and assertions. Previous dragon-inhabited poets called on to give and bear witness - Plath, Coleridge - it is a world that I also know accurately rendered... To gain most from their density, references/allusions, this collection is best savoured, explored, one Canto at a time. (The explanatory notes are almost as intriguing as the Cantos themselves.) While for anyone who has had experience of mental illness this sympathetic collection can provide context, reassurance... Sam Smith, The Journal Issue 35


Like Burroughs and Ginsberg with The Yage Letters or Ken Kesey with One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Morrison is a sensitive poet equipped with relevant insider knowledge and consequently he is able to provide a deceptively innocent and/or brutal humour as he feels to be appropriate. ... Morrison eventually succeeds through the medium of poetry, in a Finnegans Wake kind of way, with his neurotic bid to provide a suitable outlet for the subdued fire of his soporific students. ... Morrison's book may prove to be one of the poetic wonders of modern psychiatric literature. It is one of the keys to the mysterious world of art brut. It belongs on the shelf alongside the works of Freud and Jung. Gwilym Williams Read the full review at Poet-in-Residence


Captive Dragons/The Shadow Thorns is an intricate and intense anthology.  Written as a poetic response to his residency at Mill View psychiatric hospital in Hove the epic poem Captive Dragons testifies creatively to the intricacies and complexities of mental illness. The stigma of mental illness and its relationship to the institutional setting is powerfully evoked by complex metaphor and symbolism. This is bound within the historical and mythic tradition with a hallucinogenic quality. Packed with paradox and deeply politicized.... The second part of the anthology is entitled The Shadow Thorns. The poem 'The Shadow Thorns', as with all of the poetry within the anthology, highly artistically achieved. The poet has actively resisted simplification of mental illness and the psychiatric institutional setting through diverse references to metamorphosis and religious metaphor. ...Deeply symbolic and highly worked the poems all depict fictionalised individuals within a hospital. They are highly nuanced, deeply political,  and problematize the pathologization of mental illness within fiction... The anthology ...covers a diverse range of topics and ideas through a kaleidoscopic web of synecdoche, historical allusion and paradox and its interaction with consciousness.

Lindsey Morgan The Madness and Literature Network Read the full review here


...some beautiful imagery including a “mesmeric pen”, a “lime milkshake sea”, and the “woodland’s bruise of bluebells in colourific surprise”. There was also more thought-provoking imagery such as “thoughts that thrum in hibernations of skull” as well as the more disturbing image of toilets as “slaughter closets” where patients have taken their lives. Through such techniques, along with dense linguistics and sound, he manages to convey the deep complexities of thought that those with psychosis experience.

Katy Lassetter, Chichester Creative Network

138pp, perfect bound paperback Waterloo Press, Sep 2011

part-funded by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

ISBN 978-1-906742-39-3