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  • 2021, First Prize, Hedgehog Press Poetry Competition

  • 2018, First prize: St Hilda’s and the Poet’s House Oxford, Science and Poetry Competition

  • 2017, Third prize and Commendation: The Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition           

  • 2017, Commendation:  Norwich Poetry Writer’s Café Competition                                             

  • 2011, Commendation: The Hippocrates Prize                                                                                     

  • 2010, Second Prize:  Frogmore Papers Poetry competition                                                           

  • 2010, Finalist: The Cinnamon Poetry Prize                                                                                           

  • 2008, Highly commended: The New Writer Poetry Competition                                                



Weight of Water

Poetry Salzburg Press

ISBN  978-3-901993-44-2

From Palette to Pen

The Holburne Museum

An Anthology of Poetry and Art 

Edited by Frances-Anne King

ISBN 978-0-903679-13-8



Crossing the Night

Hedgehog Press

ISBN 978-1-913499-91-4

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Weight Of Water

Spring/Summer 2014

“…There is a crystallizing of emotion and thought here which reminds one of Imagism in the precision of the lines, but with King’s own stamp of originality and exactitude: ‘ the murk of shadows…sifting images through my mind,’ ‘the tracing of branch-bones against a washed-out sky,’ ‘the bone-lit morning light’(conveying intimations of death),the heart behind the shadow of the lungs./the armour of ribcage’ (on the visit to a medical museum)…There is a sense of eternity one finds in Henry Vaughan’s poetry, of the binding of life and shadow.”


January 2015

“…’Trace’ creates that vital space for the reader’s personal associations to invade the poem and its mysterious absences, “an empty seat full of presence”….’Fleet’ recalls one of the lost rivers of London and its contact to fluid histories. “downfall from a sacred river/to a stinking sewer…” beautifully framed in the banality of waiting for buses, very cleverly done. Two poems that face each other ‘Red’ and Lepidopterist’ share a kind of roving exoticism which is tapestry-like in the best way. ‘Red’ evokes “ the East at dawn” and ‘Lepidopterist’ exploits the weird and wonderful connotations of moth names:  “ Great brocade, Billberry Tortrix.” This is a very fine pamphlet, with some resonant evocations of London places.”

Tears on the Fence


“…Places and moments are haunted by traces of the past, by what is unsaid,  ‘a cold ache of absence’, ‘that sound of chains in the wind – an empty seat full of presence’, ‘half-remembered voices’, things ‘hard to grasp’ as memory delivers images that can’t quite be trusted…

 There are poems of suggestion and ellipsis, where nothing is solid: ‘a shape wavers into focus’, ‘the soundless movement of mouths’.  But King’s triumph is that even in evoking mystery and the unsayable, her language is never less than exact…

I’ve never valued colour more than when reading King’s powerful poem ‘When Colour left the World’. And ‘Lost at Sea’, inspired by an art installation by mark Clarke, draws on all her skills of evoking loss and memory to convey the unbearable loss of a youth at sea.”

From Palette to Pen


September 2016

“Pleasure, indeed, was a central experience in holding, looking at and reading  From Palette to Pen , edited by Frances-Anne King…  ‘Nowadays, however, we certainly expect more than mere description (however vivid) from painting-poems and this collection certainly doesn’t disappoint…

The book is quite beautifully produced, in terms of layout, photographs, paper etc. Frances-Anne King deserves our gratitude for carrying this project through so successfully to so successful a conclusion.”

Martyn Crucefix Blog, 

21 March 2017

"‘From Palette to Pen’ – a bit more ekphrasis."




Sometimes at night,

waiting for a bus that never comes,

you can feel it –

the  pressure of water –

like a memory

breaking to the surface;

a pulse under the skirr of wind

that throbs down Charterhouse street,

across Holborn

and slips under the clic-clac-clic

of a woman’s stilettos

tapping out a lonely mantra

on a slope of pavement

that maps a route

the river used to run.

Night and wind collude to give it voice,

o it moans of loss –

of downfall from a sacred river

to a stinking sewer;

of how it sluiced into the Thames

to mould itself round wherry-boats

and galleons,

of how it lapped

against an orchestra of oars.

Waiting for a bus that never comes,

you’re relieved to see its headlights,

its dimly boxed glitter;

to swing up into its warmth

and sink into a grubby seat –

to be spared the weight of water.

Hearts and other organs

I remember a museum of glass bottles,

shelf after shelf rising to the ceiling.

Were the skylights domed? The light

was granite-flecked, dimly illuminating

a  Victorian freak show of medical specimens –

speckled, puckered, gill-like tissue all in tall flasks

floating down the years in liquid chemicals:

an army of jetsam collected and collated.

I remember foetuses, some wrapped in cauls –

the sailors’ lucky charm – others so transparent

I could see the heart behind the shadow of the lungs,

the armour of ribcage, the hands

and nails curled bleak and beautiful as plainchant,

rocking in their sea of loss.

When Colour Left the World

we stood watching grass fade,

trees suck back green

so leaves hung tallow on a rising wind.

The red of the moss-rose

bled back into its thorny stem,

blue withdrew into darkness;

gentian, lapis lazuli, the iris

of the Rathlin hare, the kingfisher’s

shy vibrancies, all paled to ghost shades

while sky erased all memory of sapphire.

Gold was the last to go,

fading from the backs of bees, leaving grey

adrift, unstable – to cling to people.

Even fire burned white then,

colour retracting to the earth’s core.

Lost at Sea

After ‘The Belfast Boy’ by Mark Clarke

It was his colour,


bright as the blackbird’s beak,

                                  as all spring things.

 His whistle

              clear across the morning air

                                           as he called the dogs to heel,

swung out into the sleek of dawn

                             hair like a wing across his brow.


                words were wounds we couldn’t open;

loss seeped through other senses.

                                 Objects he’d loved

                                                we laid out round us:


the race horse, farm dray,

                             cats and collies, the painted owl

 whose call he’d caught in the cup of his hands,

                                         those endless dusks of his youth.

His yellow hulled boat

                              sailed the top of the mantelpiece,

the sea of our loss swelling under it –

                                            fathom on fathom

we could never bring light to.

Crossing Pater Noster Square

Was it the dead, telephoning

down the wire of the wind,

or the ghost of bells

caught in the stillness

of the bone-lit morning light?

Like the thrum of bees wings

hums and primes pulsed the air

whitening the light between wind-beats.


11 pm and still light.

A glow of amber

behind a trail of charcoal cloud

shaped  like a brachiosaurus                      

loping the sky’s vast plain

in search of prey.

This is the hour

when tidy knots of certainty

loosen and fall away,

let you dip into your shadows,

write yourself across

the forgiving  page of night.

Home Thoughts from the Red Planet

It was considered weakness to look back

so they didn’t speak of it, but images  

spored inside their heads and spread

across their dreams at night. Some stashed

files, chose rare fonts – as if to keep the past

alive more vividly. Some wrote of trees;

oak, aspen, cypress, silver birch, pelts

of balsam fir across a mountain range,

the shape and texture of a leaf, the vibrancy

or calm of some particular shade of green.

A man described a wheat field ripening under sun,

the weight and sea-sway of wind-pulled crops.

A woman, haunted by cycles of return, explained

the pattern play of swallows in an autumn sky;

how they forage on the wing, the skim and swoop

of cobalt feathers across the surface of a lake.

Another recorded the last bee she’d seen, a red carder,

and sketched it in the margins of each page.

Through all their notes the memory of blue

in all its myriad shades, repeated and repeated.

After the Romans Left        

A room suffused with amber light.                          

An elderly couple, their evening meal                             

spread out across a table:

a low table laden with dormice

dipped in honey, pheasant, dark olives,

harvested walnuts and the last flask

of their Roman wine.

Dialogue seeps soft and slow

as if rising through deep water.

They wonder who will tend the vines

now old Sirius is dead.

Shortages are touched on briefly:

pepper running low,

no cinnamon to spice the apple cake.

When a neighbour stumbles in

with news of sightings:

ships in the estuary

dark smoke on the horizon,

painted people crossing the wall

and moving southwards,

the couple speak in coded calmness.

Too old to leave with Maximus,

they have buried their gold and silver

in the woods. Their treasure

will lie untouched for centuries.

Amber light sinks to shadow. Dark

spins down like ashes. Hand in hand

they walk into the almost- night.

Pembrokeshire Quilt


After the telegram arrived

she rolled out sky-blue satin cotton,

took softest lambs-wool wadding –

recalling mountain rambles,

how they picked fleece from crevices

in stone walls, hedges, ditches,

how she taught him to card wool

to remove twigs and thistles.

Sunlight sparked her rows of threaded needles

in their scarlet velvet cushion

turning them to minute bayonets and lances.

She didn’t need her templates,

the tailor’s chalk moved smoothly

as if her hand had somehow

always known this journey.

A starfish medallion, two borders,

one of waves and shells,

one of flowers and fern fronds,

then acorns in each corner. Stars and spirals –

so many spirals, as if this emblem of eternity

might reel him in a fraction closer –

the child whose kingdom was an oak wood,

who came home at dusk

the smell of green a song on him;

the beachcomber who collected ammonites,

egret’s feathers, salt-washed wood

buffed smooth as bone in moonlight;

the boy who learned the constellations,

told her the stars’ white shining

was already in the past.

When finished the quilt was folded,

taken up the mountain to that place

where stone cromlechs covered

ancient warriors, where fields

and wooded valleys sloped down

to a gentian sea. Here she buried it –

in soil his bones would never lie in.



Each night she lies in bed,

listens to her heart’s percussive

knocking from basement to attic,

sometimes a scratch, a thud,

a ceaseless pecking,

as if an animal menagerie

of wild, exotic creatures

is in residence.

Sometimes a line from a song

drifts the dark, coils

like a smoke-ring around her;

a stray scent –  musk roses, oranges,

the mineral smell of blood.

How can she live with this heart

holding such freight,

wearing its old walls thin.


I hear him call her little bear

and think of Ursa Minor –

of how the North Star

                                 anchors it

yet gives it slack

enough to write a path

of time and light

                         across the sky.

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