Janet Lees

Poet, Isle of Man

Having worked as a freelance copywriter for many years, Janet embarked on a Creative Writing MA at Lancaster University, graduating with distinction in 2013. Her poetry has been published in magazines including Magma, Poetry News and The Missing Slate, and in Summer 2014 she was one of 72 poets from around the world to feature in the BBC Radio Poetry Postcards project, part of the BBC’s Commonwealth Games programming. Janet studied for an art degree and has always had a keen appetite for the visual. She mixes words with images, film and sound and has had poetry films selected for international art prizes and festivals, including the Aesthetica Art Prize, Filmpoem and the British and Irish Poetry Film Festivals.


In the dark months the sea shows its hand,
dumping stones as big as cannonballs
at the doors of The Trafalgar.

Inside, a fibreglass Viking guards the flat screen TV
and Ida Kelly leads a sing-song on her squeezebox –
a gift from the last accordion factory in France.

Less than half your blood belongs here.
Past and future run through you
like blurred words in seaside rock.

Every August you drown in carnival crowds
that disperse at dusk, leaving you stood
before a Punch & Judy stall on the beach.

Looking out past its candy-stripe curtains,
you watch the fins of a basking shark glide by,
pointing towards other bodies of land.

Janet Lees

One of 72 Commonwealth nation poems to
feature in BBC Radio’s Poetry Postcards project.

Ever since I was a small child I’ve always loved that vertiginous plunge into other people’s lives you get through not-quite-shut curtains and warped back garden fences. I think poetry has the capacity to do something emotionally similar. My contribution to Documenting Britain, Scavenge, will develop through poems incorporating words taken from overheard conversations, from ads in local shop windows, road signs, place names, house names, graffiti, tattoos – anything and everything that speaks the language of Britain now.

Little words of Love

Writing this post during the annual Valentine’s Day frenzy, I wanted to include a couple of poems on the theme of love.

The postcard poem here…

Janet Lees

February 14, 2015

Words from underground

True to my project name, I’ve been scavenging words and phrases from a whole range of different sources. I particularly like doing this with posters and…

Janet Lees

Waiting in the wings of England

I’m so happy to be here as part of Documenting Britain, but this isn’t a very cheery post. I think that’s partly to do with the time of year, partly my time of life, but mostly the time we’re alive in. So many Big Things, some of them so huge they end up being invisible: elephant ghosts in our most…

Janet Lees