Jennifer Copley

Jennifer Copley lives in Barrow-in-Furness in her grandmother's house, a large draughty Victorian pile that has informed much of her poetry. She is the author of 3 full collections of poetry and 6 pamphlets including Ice (Smith/Doorstop 2002) Unsafe Monuments (Arrowhead 2006) Beans in Snow (Smokestack 2009) Living Daylights (Happenstance 2011) and Sisters (Smokestack 2013). Her work has appeared in The Rialto, The North, PN Review, the Independent on Sunday, the Forward Prize Anthology and GCSE Poetry Unseen revision papers.

She has won prizes in several poetry competitions including 1st prizes in the Faber/Ottaker and the Mirehouse, 2nd prize in the Cardiff Academi, 3rd prize in the Bridport, shortlisted twice for the Strokestown Prize.

U.A. Fanthorpe has described her work as 'urgent, visceral, written out of a fierce commitment to truth'. Carol Rumens says, 'There is a Chagall-like, magical-realist quality to Copley's delicate shape-shifting' and W.N. Herbert comments that her work is 'quietly life-enhancing, full of real rewards and surprising consolations'.

Her latest collection, Some Couples, was published by Happenstance in 2017.

In 2018 she won the Cinnamon Pamphlet Competition, Being Haunted, which will be coming out in 2019.


'Jennifer Copley writes with a spare, uncompromising directness, her subjects parents, children, and all the intimate strangenesses of family relationships. She writes about the curiously alive power of clothes, and about the mysterious interpenetration of animals and humans, landscape and nature. Death and life, loss and fear leave their mark, but the borders between them merge.

Though there is an immensely insightful poem about a cat, this is not poetry for the faint-hearted. It is urgent, visceral work, written out of a fierce commitment to truth. Copley's collection deals with strange territory in a memorable and disturbing way' — U A Fanthorpe


Mondays, in the kitchen, her arms all suds.
I peer through steam but she’s disappeared
till I see her in the yard, pegging sheets.
Later she’ll be upstairs, taking off her wet blue dress
or coming out of the bathroom saying,
Don’t use too much paper. We’re quite low. 

In the dark she’s in different places:
the end of my bed, the space by the wardrobe,
picking up my clothes.
Fuzzy yellow light runs in ribbons
from her head to her heels.
Her footprints glow for ages after she’s gone. 

Today she’s in the greenhouse
wearing gloves that are far too big
and the old straw hat.
I tap on the glass but she looks right through me.
I wish she’d smile, come close,
stroke back the fringe from my forehead. 

Sundays, I see her under the earth,
peacefully asleep, her mouth slightly open,
but she comes to when I start arranging flowers.
Going home in the car, she sits beside me
folding the cellophane to use again,
winding the string round her little finger.


(First published in The North )

Titles by this author


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