Katrina Porteous is a poet, historian and broadcaster who lives on the Northumberland coast. She writes about the relation between culture and the natural environment, and her special interests include the Northumbrian fishing industry, which she has researched extensively from medieval to modern times. She enjoys collaboration with musicians and scientists. These interests coalesce in her extensive experimental radio work, which has been described as ‘extending the boundaries of the genre’.
Katrina was born in Aberdeen, grew up in County Durham, read History at Cambridge and studied in the USA on a Harkness Fellowship. A Gregory Award winner, she has been poet-in-residence in schools in Boston, USA, the Shetland Islands and at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, and has led poetry workshops at Dartington International Music Festival (2018-19). Her work in Northumbrian dialect, and on place and local distinctiveness, has received national recognition. She is President of the Northumbrian Language Society, was a contributor to Common Ground’s encyclopedia, England in Particular, and is an ambassador for the New Networks for Nature alliance.
Since 2011 Katrina has collaborated on a series of multi-channel electronic music and poetry performances with digital composer Peter Zinovieff, including ‘Horse’ (Sage Gateshead and Radio 3 Between the Ears); and three science-based audio-visual pieces for Life planetarium, Newcastle: ‘Edge’ (Radio 4 Poetry Please Special), ‘Field’ (Durham University), and ‘Sun’ (Northumbria University and NUSTEM ‘Imagining the Sun’). These pieces have successfully transferred to other venues and are available for tour. Her latest collaboration with Zinovieff is ‘Under the Ice’ (2021), a response to research in Antarctica by polar scientists from Northumbria University (with NUSTEM, ‘Exploring Extreme Environments’). Katrina also performs with traditional musicians such as English concertina player Alistair Anderson, Northumbrian piper Chris Ormston and London-based Alexis Bennett, and has worked with sound artist Geoff Sample on ‘The Bird Roads’ audio trail for Amble, Northumberland (2021). Her collaborations with visual artists include ‘Longshore Drift’ with James Dodds (Jardine Press, 2005), words for Michael Johnson’s sculptures at Seaham, and her latest publication, ‘Sea Change’, with poet Phoebe Power and artist Rose Ferraby (Guillemot Press, 2021). Her collections from Bloodaxe Books include ‘The Lost Music’ (1996), ‘Two Countries’ (2014, shortlisted for the Portico Prize 2015), and ‘Edge’ (2019).