Jennifer Copley

Jennifer Copley

Wrote poetry secretly in my teens - helped with the misery of boarding-school. Trained as a teacher, married, had three children. Youngest was disabled so until he went to university, did no serious writing. In 1994 took an Open College of the Arts poetry course which kickstarted my writing. Then did an MA at Lancaster University which was amazing. Met other writers for the first time. Was so much in awe of them that I hardly spoke for a year. Eventually learned to trust my own voice.

Have had over 100 poems published individually. In 2001 was a prize winner in the Smith/Doorstop Book and Pamphlet Competition.

My poems are about my family, my son's illness, my mother's death, my father's senility. Others are quite dark with a touch of menace. Others tell a story. Most recent work is a sequence of 12 poems which chronicle 6 months in the lives of 3 sisters who have been dragged off to Africa in the 1900's, their father being a Methodist Missionary. Plenty of sex and chicken-bones.


I draw you on your special day
with a blue cup, a yellow flower
and a door opening.
I draw you leaning in.
I give you guests moving in slow-motion
through daisy-chains of grass.

What happens next in the corner of the page
is a man, dressed all in black.
Everyone looks up because I draw him very thick and very fast,
making a hole in the paper.
He unclenches his feet,
moves forward.

Now I draw the cup again,
blue-crayoned to signify tears.
The yellow flower has grown black buds
because there are two sides
to every colour.

published by Pitch 2001


He whispers her name at night
into my shoulder.
His breath is cold,
colder than camel-bone.

Today he came into the house,
smiling over his shoulder.
Three into two won't go,
I was taught in school.

The lesson placed before me,
face-down like an exam paper
on a hard desk,
will soon begin.

I wait to be told to turn over,
fill in my name.

Published by The Independent on Sunday, Poem of the Week,
September 2002


I soak her nails in a saucer of glycerine.
As cuticles soften, I push them back
revealing thin white moons.

I buff and polish,
then cream her hands, her gawky wrists,
the rough skin round her elbows.

She goes to my bedroom,
fetches the heavy silver-backed brush
and matching comb.

I unfasten her plait.
It falls below her shoulders,
swings in the half-light of evening.

In the mirror, a Degas painting -
a woman, her child,
a rope of long red hair.

With slow strokes I begin.
Tiny curls escape from the brush
to frame her face.

published in the Lancaster Lit. Fest. Anthology 2002

Poems on this page Copyright © 2003 Jennifer Copley

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Last modified: March 28th 2005