have recently become associated with the research centre ‘Representations of Home in Literatures and Cultures in English’ at the University of Lisbon https://www.rhome.letras.ulisboa.pt/en/ – which is a joy as well as an honour. See my blog page for the work I am hoping to undertake with colleagues there.
I am married to Malcolm Rigg and this year (2023) we are celebrating being together for forty-two years; this is a poem I wrote for him a long time ago, which feels true still:
Song for St Valentine’s Night
Cover me over
with your bright body
come cover my body
as flesh covers bones
as moss covers stone
as earth covers dead
and I will love you
and I will love you
as apple loves mouth
as velvet loves skin
as knifeblade loves whetstone
as new moon loves thief
come to me guilty
save for your answer
come in your gladrags
and down with me lie
‘She shares with fine poets like Jane Draycott and Charles Tomlinson an incredibly clear-eyed perception in language which is as musical as it is exact… Lesley Saunders is a very exciting and interesting writer who deserves your closer attention.’ David Morley
‘I knew that Lesley Saunders was on to the real right thing the moment I first read a poem of hers, In Praise of Felt Tips, back in 1987… She is an exciting poet.’ Anthony Thwaite
‘“Cloud Camera” is the most intelligent and thrilling book of poetry I’ve seen in several years…’ Michael Hulse
Here’s a list of my poetry publications:
- The Dark Larder. (1997). Pamphlet. With images by Peter Hay. Reading: Corridor Press.
- Christina the Astonishing. (1998). With Jane Draycott and images by Peter Hay. Reading: Two Rivers Press.
- Her Leafy Eye. (2009). With images by Geoff Carr. Reading: Two Rivers Press.
- No Doves. (2010). Cardiff: Mulfran Press.
- Some Languages Are Hard to Dream In. (2010). Pamphlet. With images by Christopher Hedley-Dent. Cardiff: Mulfran Press.
- Cloud Camera. (2012). Reading: Two Rivers Press.
- Ordinary Treasure. (2012). Self-published; printed and bound by Chris Wilson at Thurlow Press.
- The Walls Have Angels. (2014) Cardiff: Mulfran Press.
- The Glass House. (2014). Self-published; printed and bound by Chris Wilson at Thurlow Press.
- Periplous: the Twelve Voyages of Pytheas. (2016). Pamphlet. Bristol: Shearsman Books.
- Angels on Horseback. (2017). Pamphlet. Sheffield: smith|doorstop.
- Nominy-Dominy. (2018). Reading: Two Rivers Press.
- A Part of the Main. (2018). With Philip Gross and Valerie Coffin Price. Cardiff: Mulfran Press.
- Point of Honour: Selected Poems of Maria Teresa Horta, translated by Lesley Saunders. (2019). Reading: Two Rivers Press. See my Blog page for more on this book.
- Days of Wonder. (2021). With images by Rebecca Swainston. Coventry: Hippocrates Press.
- This Thing of Blood & Love. (2022). Reading: Two Rivers Press.
- Christina the Astonishing. Re-issue (2022). With Jane Draycott and images by Peter Hay. Reading: Two Rivers Press
I am also an experienced editor, poetry mentor and workshop leader – contact me if you’d like to discuss a possible project.
See my Reviews page for reviews…
I’ve also written several academic publications on the theme of poetry:
SAUNDERS, L. (2003). ‘On flying, writing poetry and doing educational research.’ British Educational Research Journal, 29, 2, 175–187.
SAUNDERS, L. (2006). ‘”Something made in language”: the poet’s gift?’, Management Decision (Special Issue), 44, 4, 504–11.
SAUNDERS, L. (2007). ‘An alternative way of responding to powerful ideas: a poem entitled “Five Principles of Quality in Narratives of Action Research” plus notes’, Educational Action Research, 15, 1, 33–40.
PHIPPS, A. and SAUNDERS, L. (2009). ‘The sound of violets: the ethnographic potency of poetry?’ Ethnography and Education Special Issue, 4, 3, 357–87.
SAUNDERS, L. (2012). ‘The Language of Flowers? “Voice” in the Garden’. In: NORGATE, S. and PIDDINGTON, E. (eds) Poetry and Voice. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
SAUNDERS, L. (2014). ‘Do poetry and science have interesting and important things in common? Some thoughts on “parsimony” and “provisionality”’, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 39, 1, 6–20.
SAUNDERS, L. (2015). ‘’Desvergonhada (shameless) ou sem vergonha (without shame)? A selection of Portuguese women’s poems in translation’. Paper presented at the concluding conference of ‘Contar Um Conto’, University of Birmingham, 19 December.
SAUNDERS, L. (2019). ‘Present absences and absent presences in contemporary lyric poetry’, AxonSpecial Issue https://axonjournal.com.au/issue-c4
Some awards and mentions
Dark Larder’s title poem won first prize in the George MacBeth poetry competition
Christina the Astonishing was featured on BBC Radio 4’s ‘A Good Read’.
My poem ‘The Uses of Greek’ was shortlisted for the Best Single Poem in the Forward Prize 1999
In 2008 I won joint first prize in the inaugural Manchester competition for a portfolio of poems
In 2016 I won the Stephen Spender prize for literary translation, with a version of a poem by acclaimed Portuguese poet Maria Teresa Horta
Other publications and broadcasts
I’ve also had numerous individual poems published in, for example, Analog Sea Review, Arete, Ambit, Envoi, London Review of Books, Mslexia, New Statesman, PN Review, Poetry London, Poetry Review, Rialto, Scintilla, Spare Rib, Staple, The North, The Warwick Review, Writing Women, and Carcanet’s New Poetry VI anthology. My work is also featured on various websites.
I’ve broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and performed at The Voicebox, South Bank Centre, London, as well as many poetry venues.
I especially love working with other people: I performed my work over many years with The Bloody Poets, sharing a stage on different occasions with Paul Foot and Tony Benn;
I worked with dancers Nicola Taylor and Jenny Coxwell-White in The Red Scarf. I enjoyed an ongoing partnership with dancer Liza Wedgwood in the shows Golden Dance, Silver Words, Miniatures and Some Languages Are Hard To Dream In.
‘The sound of violets’ was a collaboration with Alison Phipps (poet and academic) to create a dialogue about education policy.
The singer-songwriter Bobby Patrick set some of my poems to music and I participated, with the composer Dimitri Scarlato, in the John Armitage music and poetry collaboration 2013, as well as in Dimitri’s 2019 composition for piano and voice, Colours.
Philip Gross and I have performed in many venues in person and online to bring our dialogue-in-poems, A Part of the Main, to audiences around the country.
I have also performed with Claire Dyer and Susan Utting in the show Lolita Paints Her Toenails, exploring gender, identity, sexuality and feminism.
Poet-in-residence at a three-day international health and social care conference in 2006: the resulting collection, Islands into a Continent, can be viewed at: http://www.health-disciplines.ubc.ca/intered/
Castings, with Malcolm Rigg (photographer), a sequence of poems to commemorate the centennial exhibition in 2007 of the Royal British Society of Sculptors at Abbey House Gardens, Malmesbury
Visiting Scholarship at Murray Edwards College (formerly New Hall), Cambridge, to create a poetry project about the gardens, which are sustainably managed as well as being excitingly designed
Writing residency at Acton Court, a beautiful and atmospheric Tudor house built for Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. As well as being inspired by these historical associations, I wrote poems that responded to the extraordinary paintings of artist-in-residence Lisa Kopper
Writing residency at the Oxford Museum of the History of Science