top of page


A prize for a single poem by a UK-based poet.
Rosemary McLeish holding her book
Colourful flowers drawn by Rosemary McLeish
I am a field, a woman in a field, drawn by Rosemary McLeish

ROSEMARY MCLEISH (1954-2020) “I didn’t read Sylvia Plath until I was 70...”

Rosemary 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 her collection, I am a field. The poem was chosen by then Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy for its 'archaic authenticity'. 

Although she wanted to be a journalist as a child, it wasn’t till she was nearly 40 that she began properly writing, after colleagues told her she was a born storyteller. In 2004, she took a creative writing course, it was here that she was ‘branded the poet’ by the other students who were mostly novelists. Interviewed in 2018, she compared writing poetry to the act of translating feelings.

“Rosemary McLeish has a unique voice in British poetry. She deserves to be read and heard by a much wider audience." Bill Lewis

It was an honour to know Rosemary and to publish her poetry. 

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


Rosemary's first collection, I am a field is a poetic memoir, and musing on a lifetime’s deep connection with nature. Rosemary said that she had "always been in love with the natural world, and feel so much part of it that these poems are where you will find me." 

The Prize was launched in 2021 and the first winner was Sue Proffitt with 'Owl Pellet at Grey Wethers'. Sue's prize of £500 plus an original drawing by Rosemary was awarded at the Rainham Poetry Festival 2023. The Prize was judged by award-winning poet Jane Burn. 

This year's Prize opens on 18 April 2024

The Prize will be open for its second iteration, the theme is the Climate and/or Climate Crisis. The winners will be chosen by poet, playwright, radio and TV writer Sarah Hehir.  For information on how to enter please visit our Prize page


This debut full-length collection of eclogues and recollections powerfully  captures place and time. 


“, 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... 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) 


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


Anthology cover
PayPal ButtonPayPal Button
£5 + £1.50 p+p (UK)
PayPal ButtonPayPal Button
I am a field
£10 + £2 p+p (UK)
PayPal ButtonPayPal Button
£10 + £2 p+p (UK)
bottom of page