About Frances Leviston
Frances Leviston was born in Edinburgh in 1982 and grew up in Sheffield. She read English at St Hilda's College, Oxford, and received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2006. Her first collection, Public Dream, was published by Picador in 2007, and was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize, the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and the Jerwood-Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. Her poems have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, the London Review of Books, the Guardian, as well as various anthologies - most recently Oxford Poets 2013 (Carcanet). Her second collection, Disinformation, is forthcoming from Picador. She lives in Manchester and works as a freelance critic and poetry tutor.
Leviston’s poetry has been acclaimed for its "unadorned language…making the dense and complex seem effortless, offering subtle conclusions with a irresistible lightness of touch" (the Guardian), and in these recordings it is the spare yet vivid, compacted quality of her work that comes to the fore. This controlled and connective imagery is perhaps what accounts for the powerfully dreamlike quality of some of her poetry: casting out with a kind of intense speculative propulsion, the world before the poem is brought into being phrase by phrase, exploring with a sure ear and eye the development of the familiar and unfamiliar in language that is precise, frank and assured. Yet the speaker of a Leviston poem never feels like a certain proposition, rather provisional, their situations dependent on multiple 'if's - these clear, poised voices guide us methodically and musically through their predicaments: measured, thoughtful, troubled, and intent on achieving some sense of scope and distance, even if that is only so we can feel more keenly the visceral pull of belonging, of whatever home might mean - as a struck deer on a roadside in 'Humbles' is seen, like the eviscerated Judas, 'tethered to earth / by all the ropes and anchors of his life.'
This recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 16 January 2013 at The Soundhouse and was produced by Anne Rosenfeld.
Frances Leviston Reading from her Poems
25A Shrunken Head
The writer and broadcaster Clive James introduces a few of his favourite poems in the Poetry Archive.