Frances Leviston

Frances Leviston lectures in creative writing at Manchester, and is the author of two collections.

From The Blog
21 June 2019

In April, I asked Denise Riley if I could put her name forward as a possible Oxford Professor of Poetry. To my delight, she agreed; not because she wanted to win, or believed she would (we soon learned that Alice Oswald was in the running), but because, despite her strong reservations about the culture of literary competition, she thought that it would be good to present a field of female candidates. But Riley’s name did not appear on the ballot. Like several other potential candidates, Riley turned out to be ineligible because of her age.

Poem: ‘I see thee better’

Frances Leviston, 2 August 2018

For Helen at the NPL

Behind her now the National History Museum Pocket Microscope she always screwed down to its farthest extension of nested rings, straining to focus

the peacock feather stolen from the dining room’s display of stiff dried flowers and fed forwards on to the stage, a blurred blue petrol and purple

fronding of fine barbules and barbicels netting white light, broken...

Poem: ‘Emily’s Electrical Absence’

Frances Leviston, 25 January 2018

I hope you may have an electrical absence, as life never loses its startlingness, however assailed.

Emily Dickinson, letter to J.K. Chickering, autumn 1882


Technologies – are not abrupt – Though Pole-vaults may appear – The lever bends a longer spell Than Morals – in a Fire

And clatters off the Bar before It ever clears the way – And makes the Mass...

Poem: ‘The Paperweight’

Frances Leviston, 4 July 2013

From Chambord-pink at the base, it clears to where the upper curve reflects a skull-cap of charcoal, giving the earthʼs atmosphere in miniature: the sea, the air, then space. Erupting from that wavy cocktail is a white flower like a frozen whale-spout arrested mid-expulsion, a filigree fuchsia trumpet, petals peeling in a spray, bearing among them a bubble shaped like a long inverted...

Poem: ‘A Shrunken Head’

Frances Leviston, 20 October 2011

In the cargo hold, cruising at thirty thousand feet above blue islands, galactically cold, I float between Oxford and the site where I was found

then traded on. I cannot see for bubble-wrap. At this stage in my repatriation I belong to no one, a blip, a birdy ounce in the undercarriage.

Only the curator knows I’ve gone, and who is left. She redesigns the tour: lizard bones replace me,...

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