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NEWS! The Rosemary McLeish Poetry Prize Anthology 2021 is now available!
Anthology cover
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I am a field
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ROSEMARY MCLEISH (1954-2020) was a Glasgow-born poet and Outsider artist. She completed a Masters degree in Creative Writing at Glasgow University in 2005, and her poetry was published in magazines including Confluence, The Writer’s Cafe, Strix, Anti-Heroin Chic and in anthologies including several from Grey Hen Press, and Pendle War Poetry. She often displayed her poems along with her artworks.


She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2018, shortlisted in the Bedford Writing Competition 2018, shortlisted in the Saveas Writers’ International Writing Competition 2017 and was Runner-Up in the 2018 Poetry Book Society/MsLexia Women’s Poetry Competition with 'Red Rebecca' which is included in I am a field.

Read an interview with Rosie on the Confluence website. 

Read Rosemary's poems for our project - An Assemblance of Judicious Heretics: 'Isolation Fantasies' and 'Back Green Controversy'.

Learn more about Rosemary's work on her website

In conjunction with Rosemary's widower, Richard Cooper, Wordsmithery set up the Rosemary McLeish Poetry Prize in 2021 to honour her memory and continue her spirit of encouraging other writers.


Feb 2019

This debut full-length collection of eclogues and recollections powerfully  captures place and time. Worlds balance on a page and spin. Each time it stops, you want to go there.


“To have a first full collection from poet and artist Rosemary McLeish is an absolute pleasure... Darkly humorous, taking fear by the throat, telling it how it is – that is the expectation and she never disappoints. But here, in the first and longest part of this collection especially, is a different voice altogether ... she newly reveals herself as a poet who writes with lyrical beauty about a lifetime’s deep connection with nature. The mood of the second and third parts of the book changes, and we are asked to take a look at the obverse in particular the grim prospect of a world and its species enduring climate change and the possibility of extinction...

But she manages to maintain her lyrical touch throughout, so that the collection as a whole remains cohesive and utterly compelling.” Joy Howard (Grey Hen Press)


“I love the salty relish and brio of this poem, and its narrative quality. The voice of Red Rebecca is very exuberant and funny. And there’s a hint of archaic authenticity about it, as though it’s a translation of an old Gaelic song.” Carol Ann Duffy, on ‘Red Rebecca’ (MsLexia 80) 


April 2020, 64 pages 

In her second collection, Rosemary McLeish confronts cancer straight on. Rosemary says: "This is not a misery memoir. It is not a journey. It is not a story of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. It is the record of one person’s experience as it happened. All I ever did was write down as clearly and honestly as I could what I was paying attention to on any particular day. It has no moral, no meaning, no “life lesson”. It’s just me, listening to my heart while living with this awful disease. I hope you might find it worth reading."

"Within these poems, McLeish is open about the fear, pain (both physical and emotional), brutality, strength, weakness, anger and sadness that she feels. There is such touching beauty in this collection..." Jane Burn

“Rosemary McLeish's unsparing honesty combines with eloquence and an extraordinary poetic imagination to bring beauty to the ugliest of experiences.” Rosie Johnston

“Rosemary McLeish has a unique voice in British poetry. She deserves to be read and heard by a much wider audience. You should buy this book. It belongs on your shelf." Bill Lewis


Rosemary McLeish photo
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