A bag of sky

Winner of the Frosted Fire First Pamphlet competition. 2019, Janet Lees’ book displays a broad range of fine-tuned emotions.

Its moods range through ironic, comedic, raunchy, wistful, nostalgic, or grieving.

The contest judges write:
Here are well constructed poems of candour, strangeness, and warmth. They are a pleasure to read.     Neil Richards

I was drawn into the sparkling language, precise, fresh imagery, and careful shaping which flew these poems to the top of the short list. Angela France
Lees offers us a richness of language and imagery that convinces in every poem.    David Clarke

The first poem in A bag of sky sets the book’s theme

We two girls together singing
A Young Lady’s Adventure’, by Paul Klee after David Hockney and Walt Whitman
I am drawn in
to your adventure;
its signature scent
of line-dried hope-white linen
cut with black coffee and frosted city air,
velvet growl of French cigarettes
rising up from pumping bass notes
of undiluted girlblood;
the skin-tight harmony of our raw code
tripping off our tongues of gold lamé.
Two maids unmade,
holding a bag of sky behind our backs,
laughing, stealing, slashing, burning,
catwalking the canyons of every next yearning,
our stormforce heartbeat scrawled across the night.
Me-you, sharpened and fluid,
doing the bump with each new moon,
wrapped in clouds of our own breath
and the ghosts we can’t see yet –
treading the dusk above our heads, offering
our hearts in their outstretched hands –
as a spiral staircase builds itself around our legs
and goat-eyed birds put their beaks to our necks
and the grinning lizard runs ahead,
its tiny crown flashing in the light
from our unquenchable momentary blaze.

JANET LEES, a poet, artist and filmmaker, won the 2019 Frosted Fire Firsts pamphlet competition. Her poetry has been published in a wide range of journals, including Magma, Poetry News and Lighthouse. Her work has also featured in several anthologies, including Planet in Peril, The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry, the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual, and Fanfare: Poems by Contemporary Women Poets.

Her film-based works have been selected for international festivals including the International Videopoetry Festival, FilmPoem and the Aesthetica Art Prize, and her visual work has been exhibited around the world. Last year Janet was the artist representing the Isle of Man at the Festival Interceltique in France, with an exhibition comprising poetry, art photography and film.
Janet Lees website


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