Janet talks of her experience of winning the Frosted Fire Firsts Award 2019, and reads from her award-winning collection A bag of sky.
Examples of Janet Lees’s work as an award-winning poetry filmmaker:
Frosted Fire First Pamphlet Award winner 2019
Janet Lees, a poet, artist and filmmaker, won the 2019 Frosted Fire First Pamphlet Award with A bag of sky.
Janet’s poetry has been published in many journals and anthologies, including Magma, Poetry News, 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 Zebra Poetry Film Festival, the International Videopoetry Festival, and the Aesthetica Art Prize, and in 2021 she won the Ó Bhéal International Poetry-Film Competition. Her visual work has been exhibited around the world.
Janet Lees website
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:
Janet’s work has sensuality and playfulness but also confronts darkness with hope. Here are well constructed poems of candour, strangeness, and warmth. They are a pleasure to read.
Janet’s pamphlet begins with ‘I am drawn in / to your adventure’ — and 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
In rich and striking language, this intense debut explores archetypes of femininity and masculinity, from Barbie and Ken to Punch and Judy. Janet Lees does not shy away from rage, love, regret, or from naming injustice. David Clarke
The first poem in A bag of sky sets the book’s theme, and heads an excellent trailer of the book’s poetry
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.
Mapping Hi-Zex Island
On the first day
we viewed the island from above:
a lightning flower flung across the skin of the sea
under the burning eye of the sun.
On the second day, we approached it from the water,
observing aspects of permanence –
three years and four months an island now,
its shape shifting between evening and morning.
On the third day we walked it, measured its synthetic
drumlins, its rope beaches, its tightly woven coves,
weighed the miles of clouded water beneath our feet.
Earth of a kind. Sea of a kind.
On the fourth day we went down to meet
this land mass in its own twilight. Ghost nets reached out
to finger our hair, calling us to the mausoleum
of the island’s rusted underbelly.
On the fifth day, we saw the ocean swarm –
angelfish and rainbow runners twisting through drifts
of polymer confetti that playact as food,
feeding the very body of our island.
The sixth day we spent logging life.
A shore crab. Clams. An albatross in flight
off the western peninsular. We collected old eel traps,
scraps like pastel coloured sharks’ teeth
with which to make a necklace for the children.
We bowed our heads under the weight of that night’s stars.
And when the seventh dawn came,
we saw our work was done.
The scissors curve like a zoo-bird’s beak, catching the sunlight that makes her shine even brighter. I shudder at my dullness. A hundred tiny likenesses strut up my arms and in through my ears; melt into red shadows that jump and grin inside my head. The eyes I have in there won’t close. They’re stitched open, like my knitted elephant’s eyes – except his look at everything kindly.
Cut. Cut. Cut. Hair gone in three quick hacks. I stick the scissors in her left eye and twist them. Her Miss Beautiful gown, shredded. Elastic bands snapped around her chest, scribbled over with thick black. I push drawing pins into her toilet brush head, push that into the toilet; drag it screeching round the rim as I squeeze the life out of too-smooth too-long legs.
‘You’ll never look like me,’ she says, lying in the mud where I flung her from the bathroom window – her smile sweet as cough mixture, making my thoughts taste of the place where granddad went to die. ‘I know,’ I say. ‘But I can make you look like you make me feel.’
Then she stands up and smiles into my inside eyes, as perfect as she was before I took the scissors to her.
If you would like to order A bag of sky
You can pay by credit or debit card, or using your PayPal Account.
All payments processed for Frosted Fire by PayPal. You do not need a PayPal account to pay. You will receive A Frosted Fire email of your order and payment.