News & Events

  • 12
    Jun
    News
    Written By Fiona Sampson
    Comments /

    Thank you to Carol Rumens for her close reading in the Guardian of Cob, from my most recent collection The Catch. As she notes, The Catch (reviewed here by Sean O'Brien) uses breath rather than punctuation to shape the poems - and for me this presented a form that is both supple and labile, nodding as it does to W S Merwin's notion that punctuation 'staples' a poem to the page. Each poem is a single sentence, and it was vital to me that this sentence 'worked' - it had an internal consistency and could be viewed from without as having complete coherence. Yet within this I aimed to keep the reader on their toes, to open a space for different readings in both

  • 26
    May
    News
    Written By Fiona Sampson
    Comments /

    Here's a taster from the Introduction of my new book, Limestone Country, out on May 30 from Little Toller. You can preorder a copy here! Limestone Country This book is about a love affair with limestone, that sedimentary rock, largely calcium carbonate, which time and water make out of bones and shells. Limestone is the cannibal earth reconsuming her own. But its lacy spume is a hundred times more delicate than marble. Limestone dazzles in Sicily, contorts the highlands of Bosnia, paves The Burren in County Clare, emerges in fantastical tufa formations on the eastern Mediterranean, in Lebanon and Israel, and creates the dramatic caves and gorges of karst regions like Slovenia’s Kras, the Chocolate Hills of the Philippines –

  • 24
    Apr
    News
    Written By Fiona Sampson
    Comments / 6

    Everyone hates a ‘humble brag’ so I’ll say it straight out – I was chuffed to receive an MBE for services to literature last Tuesday. And here’s why. We live in a time where any sort of intellectual cultural activity is regarded with suspicion, and where funding is being cut from anything that promotes critical thinking. Libraries are being closed, university places are becoming ever more expensive, humanities subjects such as classics are being dropped from school curriculums (their difficulty is having an adverse effect on students’ marks, ‘reasons’ the minister), and where any voice that attempts to express the complexity of life is silenced with cries of ‘elitism’. As we’ve seen in the last two years, this cultural dumbing

  • 31
    Oct
    News
    Written By Fiona Sampson
    Comments /

    There’s a running joke in my house that I have always published 27 books, no matter how many more I write. It just feels like a good number, and works well when being introduced. I’m not sure what the next euphonious number is – 31? 33? 46? Obviously 27 will have to absorb a few new books before I make the leap... So, I am happy to announce that my fifth (or sixth?) 27th book is out today – Lyric Cousins – which investigates the relationship between music and poetry at the deepest level – how each form shapes the other in a dialogue that is as old as Homer. Having made a career in both, it was a pleasure for me

  • 19
    Oct
    News
    Written By Fiona Sampson
    Comments / 1

    I should be used to it by now, but there is still something thrilling about having your new book arrive, hot off the presses. My latest book, Lyric Cousins, is out on October 31, and it represents a unique opportunity for me to bring together my three 'careers' - as a poet, as a professional musician, and as a critic. As many of you will be aware, I started life as a concert violinist, studying at the Royal Academy of Music, and performing for and with musicians including Sir Simon Rattle and Pierre Boulez. As a poet, I have had my work set by composers including Sally Beamish, Steve Goss and Luminata Spinu, and am currently having three sonnets from Coleshill set

  • 08
    Jun
    News
    Written By Fiona Sampson
    Comments /

    Music has always played a huge part in my life.  Before I became a writer I was a concert violinist: I had a wonderful time, studying and working with figures like Pierre Boulez, Sir Michael Tippett, Yehudi Menuhin (at his Academy in Switzerland), Sir Simon Rattle – and even Vangelis! Since then I’ve always been delighted when my poems have been set by classical composers – including Rough Music by Stephen Goss; Tree Carols by Sally Beamish (which receives a second outing in Oxford by Roddy Williams and the Coull Quartet at St John Evengelist on June 23rd; and Bee Sama by Luminita Spinu. In December this year a setting of Stone House by Rudolf Komorous will be performed at

  • 05
    May
    News
    Written By Fiona Sampson
    Comments / 1

    While any artist likes to feel in control of their work, it’s ultimately the reader who, in dialogue with the poems, discovers what they’ve become. I've been fortunate with The Catch. The private reaction has been overwhelming… I’ve been so moved. Meanwhile, public feedback is turning up many fascinatingly different 'readings'. In his interview for The Literatur, Patrick Davidson Roberts identifies the way that this book keeps coming back to ideas of 'light' and 'morning', as opposed - if that word isn't too emphatic - to the dark thread that runs through Coleshill. Declan Ryan, in Ambit, sees this too, and also a 'necessary, sobering grief which runs mostly invisible underneath its hymns and songs' - I like that

  • 29
    Feb
    News
    Written By Fiona Sampson
    Comments /

    On February 28, I was honoured to give the sermon at Evensong at St Catherine's College. The service, led by Reverend David Neaum, was absolutely wonderful and it was very moving to be a part of it. The sermon was based on the two Lessons - Genesis 28: 10-19a (Jacob's ladder) and John 1: 35-end - and is reproduced below. Sermon Delivered at St Catherine’s College: 28th Feb 2016 As a child, I used to puzzle over the way the Lessons were paired in the Anglican calendar. You’d leave church one Sunday in the midst of something - say, a parable being told on a sunny Galilee morning - and come back a week later to something completely different: Paul nagging the Ephesians, for example. There

  • 21
    Feb
    News
    Written By Fiona Sampson
    Comments /

    I'm very pleased to announce that March 8 will see the UK launch both The Catch and the Romanian translation of Volta, poems from The Catch and Coleshill, at the Romanian Cultural Institute in Belgrave Square, at 7pm. The Romanian Cultural Institute is a generous supporter of artists across genres and nationalities, and is a tireless advocate of cross-cultural exchange between Romania, the UK and other European countries, so I am incredibly proud to have been offered this opportunity. It's a wonderful venue too - if you haven't been before then you are in for a treat! There will also be drinks! Being, serendipitously, International Women's Day, the night will also look at the broader theme of collaboration between women artists. I will

  • 04
    Feb
    News
    Written By Fiona Sampson
    Comments /

    The wait is over! I’m really excited that my new collection, The Catch, is published today. Thank you so much to everyone who’s played a part in making it happen. I’ve have to admit I’ve really loved writing this collection. I keep wanting to push at boundaries - of feeling, of consciousness, of form. In The Catch I’ve been exploring a sense that breath is fundamental to poetry.  Most of the poems are a single sentence, shaped by a push-me-pull-you rhythm of line-breaks and stanza-breaks. And I’m fascinated by the transformational movement between experience and history, experience and myth. This book is full of the time I’ve spent in France over the last year, where I’ve been overwhelmed by the richness of the natural

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