Michael Mott

michael mott

December 8, 1930 ~ October 11, 2019

Born in: London, England
Resided in: Decatur, GA

Michael Charles Alston Mott Michael Mott (born 8 December 1930, London) died at home on 11 October, in Atlanta, after months in home hospice surrounded by the things he loved most, his family, books, art, nature, and the company of friends. Michael was the author of eleven poetry collections, four novels, and a best-selling biography of Thomas Merton. A sense of place was important to him and was often reflected in his writing. North Georgia, in the US and North Cornwall in England were among his favorites. He was educated in the United States and in England. After his service in the British Army, he attended Oriel College, Oxford, then art school and spent a year traveling in Europe and the Middle East. In 1957, his first collection of poetry, The Cost of Living, was published followed by the novel The Notebooks of Susan Berry (1962), Helmet and Wasps (1965), Master Entrick (1965), and The Blind Cross (1969). In addition to publishing eleven collections of poetry, his work has appeared in American, British, Canadian, Danish, and Irish periodicals. Before moving to the U.S. in 1966, Michael worked as a book editor at Thames & Hudson (1961-1964) and then as an editor at The Geographical Magazine (1964–66). Between 1956-1966, he also worked as the assistant editor of the literary magazine: ADAM International Review. In 1961, Michael married Margaret Watt and in 1962, the couple welcomed twin daughters. The family moved to America in 1966 when Michael was invited to teach at Kenyon College and to be the poetry editor of The Kenyon Review. He later taught at Emory University as Writer-in-Residence during the 1970’s where he was active in Atlanta’s civil rights movement and instrumental in the city’s budding arts scene. In 1972, he cofounded the Callanwolde Readings Program, which highlights poets and writers, with poets Turner Cassity and Gene Ellis. In 1974, he received the Governors Award in Fine Arts from then Governor Jimmy Carter. In 1978, Michael Mott was commissioned to write the authorized biography of Thomas Merton. The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton published in 1984 was a New York Times best-seller, winner of a number of awards, and the runner up for the Pulitzer Prize in biography in 1985. Michael was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1979. In 1978-1979, and again in 1985-1986 Mott was Writer-in-Residence at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. He holds a Christopher Award and other awards, and has an honorary doctorate from St. Mary's College, Notre Dame; and was Professor Emeritus, after eleven years teaching at Bowling Green State University, Ohio. Until the time of his death, he maintained a lifelong practice of letter writing corresponding with family, friends, and deep thinkers—most recently former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, artist Katherine Mitchell, poet Tony Roberts, and religion and humanities scholar John Alden Williams—with whom he shared his great passions for literature, philosophy, art, and spirituality. Northwestern University houses his correspondence as part of The Michael Mott Collection in The Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections. Mott was predeceased by his parents Eric Mott and Margaret (Totts) Berger, first wife Margaret Mott, brother Eric Anthony Mott, and nephews Nicholas and Jonathan and niece Diana. He is survived by daughter Sophie Mott and daughter-in-law Roz Nation (Atlanta), daughter Amanda Mott (Philadelphia), granddaughter Shakiera Sarai (New York), brother John Mott (England), his second wife Lou Powers (Williamsburg), and eight nieces and nephews: Alyson and Sarah Feltes; Harriet, Rebecca, James, Richard, Nick, and Charlie Mott, and fourteen great nieces and nephews, and caregivers Yahyah Suber, Marybeth Hayes, Stacy Harrell, and his trusted canine companion Cali Mott-Nation. Service arrangements will be published as available later this week. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to The Carter Center; St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, Atlanta; the Southern Poverty Law Center; the Nature Conservancy; or Agape Hospice Atlanta.

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  1. So very sorry for the loss of your Father.May you seek comfort in knowing he is reunited with your Mother and other family.

  2. Sophie and Amanda,
    I only had the privilege of meeting your father for one wonderful evening, but his artistic and sensitive soul was shining clearly, even though it was close to the end. He was full of gratitude for you both, and for all the experiences of his rich life, fully lived. I know he’ll be missed by many for a long time to come. May you find peace in your grieving as you remember him as a blessing!

  3. Dear Amanda & Sophie,

    Sarah Longaker and I join in sending you condolences upon the death of your father. He was a great poet, a generous spirit, and a loyal friend; we shall miss him. I have known him for almost all of my life, and I would not be the writer or the person I am if I had not had his incomparable support and wise and always good-humored guidance. I would be sadder today than I am if he had not made my world so much brighter.

  4. Sending love and light your way. So happy that you had these past few months with him. What a gift. I only wish I had met him. His life has left an ever-lasting spirit in this world that will live on. Hoping that you can heal and find peace in knowing that he continues to live through your love.

  5. Amanda and Sophie, I am so sorry to learn of your father’s passing. He was a gentleman and scholar, and Frank and I loved our several evenings and meals with him when visiting you in Philadelphia. I am so glad you had some quality time with him during his last few months. I shall be thinking of you both in these days ahead and wish we could be with you. Much love, Ann Hurd Fralix

  6. What an honor to spend time with your father over the last few months. He’s made an indelible mark on my life for which I will be forever grateful. What an accomplished writer, father and friend he was. May he Rest In Peace through all eternity. Hearts to you and your family.

  7. Soph, my sincere condolences on your father’s passing. He sounds like a remarkable man.
    Deepest sympathies to you and Amanda and everyone who loves him.

  8. Just heard the sad news from Charlotte. I was so hoping to cross the pond to see Michael one last time but alas was too late. He was always such a good cousin and godfather and has departed having had a wonderful, active and productive life, bringing joy to all who crossed his path. His wisdom, humour and great story-telling have left a legacy of infinite value.
    To Sophie, Amanda and all the clan I send my love and condolences. Be of good cheer and celebrate Michael’s great life.

  9. Sophie what a wonderful legacy your Father left. He sounds like an extraordinary person/artist. You and your family will be in my thoughts.

  10. Sophie and Amanda, I am so sad to hear about your dad. But what a wonderful last few months you gave him. He will always remain larger than life in my family’s memories of Atlanta in the 1970s. He was a great friend to our father. Who loved him dearly until his last days. The Atlanta poetry community owes your dad a debt of gratitude! He left Atlanta a more cultured place. Big hug, Sophie and Amanda. Love, Laura

  11. Amanda: I just learned of your father’s passing. I am sorry. My prayers are with you and for him.


  12. Sophie and Amanda, you have my deepest sympathy. Your father was an extraordinary writer, as well as a generous and kind friend—understanding and supportive, a source of inspiration. I refer to his generosity of spirit, time and encouragement. I will truly miss him.

  13. Amanda,
    I am so sorry to hear of your father’s passing. May he Rest In Peace and may you have the strength and courage to bear this loss. You and he will be in my prayers.

  14. I remember Michael from the late 1960s when I was a graduate student to Emory. I read with great interest his biography of Merton. He enriched many lives.

  15. I remember Michael as a young man in his early twenties when he used to sit on my untidy, crazy but brilliant father’s bed and just listen to any literary story Miron, Grindea, editor of ADAM , had to tell him… My father was always on exciting adventures and he took Michael with him to meet great writers , poets and musicians. I attended the wedding to Margaret and well remember the twins being born. I was honoured to be asked to be their godmother but had to decline on religious grounds .

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