Lesley Harrison, 2012 Recipient

Lesley-Harrison Lesley Harrison is from the east coast of Scotland. She teaches children with additional needs, and recently received a Master’s degree at Aberdeen University. She writes mainly poetry, and her work reflects her interest in landscape, birds and the empty places of the map.

Recent Publications


Upstream (Creative Scotland & SNH, Feb 2014): essay and set of poem postcards from a science/arts collaboration as part of ‘Imagining Natural Scotland 2013’.

Beyond the Map (Mariscat Press, Dec 2012): poem sequence following the journey of the whaling ships up the east coast to Orkney and Shetland to the Arctic seas beyond.

Ecstatics: A Language of Birds (Brae Editions, Orkney, Sep 2011): pamphlet of haiku and drawings; collaboration with Orkney artist Laura Drever. Winner, National Library of Scotland CMM Award.

"Whale Song," In A Wider Vein, ed. Linda Cracknell (Two Ravens Press, Spring 2009): essay/meditation on whale song, published in anthology of nature writing.

One Bird Flying: Poems from the Great Road (Mariscat Press, Dec 2009): written in Mongolia, based on the journals of Marco Polo. Runner up, National Library of Scotland CMM Award.


Selected Poems

From “Native Customs”

Extracted from David Hawthorn Cardno, Journals of whaling and sealing voyages. 31st December 1869. University of Aberdeen Manuscripts Collection.

The young ice was made that we could travel
this morning, as during the night
this woman long had been an invalid
her husband through all was kind to her

an igloo was made, and into it
all that was comfortable was taken out
and took himself another wife.
she met his view erect, eyes staring

it is the custom to leave everything
no one may enter the place of the dead
all their huts removed from the corpse
for two weeks, helpless and starving

we rolled her in her own skin, a blanket
and buried on the other side, beyond
this dark and outer boundary of earth
and then we returned on board ship.

Greenland Lullaby

Sleep, sleep my little bird
muffled in your winter blanket
songs are hidden in the dark
waken later in the sun

Muffled in your winter blanket
the ice will mouth words for you
waken later in the sun
curl back inside your bed

The ice will mouth words for you
words that you have never heard
curl back inside your bed
our memories are waiting for you

Words that you have never heard
sleep, sleep inside the snow
our memories are waiting for you
growing slowly into winter

Sleep, sleep inside the snow
sleep, sleep my little bird
growing slowly into winter
songs are hidden in the dark.


Explore Lesley Harrison’s Blog


A brief comment from Lesley Harrison about her visit to Greece in 2012

In my poetry I experiment with the language of place, exploring how language creates our shared understanding of the space we inhabit, and how people build and furnish their world through language.

My two weeks in Greece radically enhanced my knowledge of Hellenic culture, both through attending the Harvard seminars and through exploring the ancient coastline and sites. I was particularly struck by how, when local people retold the history of a town or an archaeological site, they invoked the Greek pantheon the way we Scots would point to kings or politicians. I loved this integration, this real, physical footprint of the gods, and in my writing I have begun to experiment more with this blending of worlds.

Cover of the awarded pamphlet Ecstatics: a language of birds, Brae Editions, Orkney.

CHS GR - Harrison pamphlet - cover