Born in New York City in 1936, Morton attended the University of Iowa Writers Workshop and completed his M.A. at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. He moved his family to Santa Cruz, California, when he took a teaching position at Cabrillo College in 1968. Morton taught English, literature, creative writing, and film history at Cabrillo College for 30 years, until his retirement in 1998.
Morton published 11 volumes of poetry and a novel. His poetry books include The Santa Cruz Mountain Poems, Pages from a Scrapbook of Immigrants, When People Could Fly, Moments Without Names: New & Selected Prose Poems, Shouting Down the Silence: Verse Poems 1988–2001, Pursuing the Dream Bone, and The Dark Figure in the Doorway.
He had more than 500 poems published in literary journals, and his work was selected to appear in over 90 anthologies in the United States, Europe, and Australia.
Striking Through the Masks: A Literary Memoir (Capitola Book Company, 2008) tells the story of his growth from embattled youth to uneasy adulthood, conjuring up the last half of the twentieth century and the opening decade of the new millennium, while recounting his own struggle to find self-awareness and wisdom. This memoir contains a virtual who’s-who of Santa Cruz, American, and international literary figures such as James Houston, George Hitchcock, Joseph Stroud, Czeslaw Milosz, Vasko Popa, Leonard Gardner, Ray Carver, Charles Simic, Robert Bly, Al Young, William Everson, and many more.
In 2009, Mort published The Star Wizard's Legacy, translations of the poet Vasko Popa. His final book of poetry is The Dark Figure in the Doorway: Last Poems. For a full list of Morton’s works, please visit the BOOKS page.
Morton's important trilogy of interviews on the craft of poetry appeared in the March/April 2001 issue of The Bloomsbury Review, the 2002 issue of The Red Wheelbarrow, and in the 25th anniversary issue of Caesura (2004). They can be found at the IDEAS page.
Morton read his poetry and conducted poetry workshops at dozens of universities throughout the country, including Columbia University, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Oregon, and several University of California campuses. He was also poet-in-residence at several State University of New York campuses, the University of Arkansas's Graduate Writing Program, Providence College and the Prague Summer Program in the Czech Republic.
His 16-part history of film, Movie Milestones, has been shown on many cable television stations, and was the main visual source of film history for many years at AFTRS, the Australian National Film School. He was the longtime co-host of KUSP radio's The Poetry Show and the co-host of the film review television show Cinema Scene, shown in the San Francisco Bay Area. He led film discussions at Santa Cruz's Nickelodeon Theater, was a co-founder of The Pacific Rim Film Festival, and curated film series at various museums as well as taking part in several panels on literature and film at the John Steinbeck Center.
Morton was the 1999 Santa Cruz County ARTIST OF THE YEAR and received the GAIL RICH AWARD in 2007 for his cultural contributions to Santa Cruz County.
In the fall of 2009, Morton lost his battle against cancer. He had remained an active contributor to the Santa Cruz arts community that he loved until the very end. In his last months he completed his final book, The Dark Figure in the Doorway, which was released in 2010.
In February 2011, the National Writer's Association Annual Conference paid tribute to Morton with a special session in Washington DC, that celebrated his legacy.
The University of California at Santa Cruz maintains the MORTON MARCUS POETRY ARCHIVE in their Special Collections. Tour the archive here, from its opening in 2010.
A complete list of Morton's works and achievements can be found HERE.