Laura Scott, 2015 Recipient

Laura-ScottLaura Scott was born in London. She studied literature at university and went on to do a PhD. This more or less exhausted her interest in critical prose and it was then that she started to write poems, seriously, slowly and uncertainly. Many of her poems come from the desire to make the reader see again with words something that doesn't reside in the words. Her poems have appeared in various magazines and poetry journals and her pamphlet, 'What I Saw' won the Michael Marks Award in 2014.


What I Saw (The Rialto, 2014) winner of the 2012 Michael Marks Pamphlet Award.


Selected Poems from Recent Work

Cello Practice

There is something about the fall
            from the top note to the one that waits
leaning into its shoulder, that pulls me

after it like a hound that’s found a scent
            in the wet curl of leaf, as if the shift
of one sound sliding into the other 

had led me to a place where the scale turns
            in the air and becomes a song
and sings me until the marrow in my bones  

has drunk up all the tune. Even as I feel its phrases
            run their lines over my arms,
I know it won’t be long before I hear the ache

that waits in the roots of those chords,
            smudging and blurring their colour.
And I think of Beauty’s sad sisters,

running up the stairs to the attic window,
            craning their necks, standing on tip toe
to catch a glimpse of her
as she leaves the house. 

The Banker’s Daughter

            Allan Ramsay 1759

As soon as he saw her he knew  —  he’d do her as
a half-length with a three quarters view of the head,
maybe a greeny grey behind her  — that was how to coax  

her face out of the doorway and into the room of his stare. 
He liked the cut of her, the blunt edge of her jaw,
the cool way she looked back at him.

He’d get her to sit at one end of the sofa and watch her
arrange herself amongst her skirts and sleeves,
gathering her potential into the creases of her clothes 

like a swan folding its wings back into their tips
as it settles on to the water.  He’d wait for her to look up,
unguarded for a moment,  so he got a flicker of the face

he wanted to paint before she pulled it back into the space
behind the eyes only practised sitters find. Later, when it
started to blur, he’d swill the image of her around in his head 

like brandy warming in a glass. For now, he’d start with lines
— the slope of the sofa behind her to balance the tilt of her head,
the angle of her arms, down and out to the elbows,

back to the centre to meet on her lap.  And finally the lines
of the black lace shawl framing the pleats of her bodice.
He’d paint the lace opening out into its pattern of loss

across her shoulder, the cinnabar pink of her dress behind it,
the froth of her cuffs, the soft folds of peach silk around
her throat.  Only then would he start on the face, 

building up layers of lead white to get the smoothness
of her forehead running back into the dark arc of her hair.
And as he waited for the thick paint to dry, he’d look 

at what he’d done, pulsing as it set on to the canvas
and he’d find himself thinking of the goose egg he held as a boy,
the shudder in his fingers as they stretched around its shape,

the jolt in his stomach when he held it up to the candle
and he saw the blood vessels moving in the light,
and the heart beating right up against the shell.

Explore Laura Scott’s website  

..and some of Laura’s other poems  


A brief comment from Laura Scott about being in Greece, in 2015

I think if someone were to ask me what was the best thing about being sent to Greece for two weeks to be the poet in residence for the Harvard summer school, and they were really strict and insisted that I could only pick one thing, I would say that it showed me how to write about big things without fear.  Most of the Greek poets I meet and did readings with seemed to soar effortlessly into the places I want to get to in my poems, but hold back from.  The place they kept returning to was the high risk place of souls and death, of love and beauty, the place where bits of myth fell into their laps, soft and ready to be made into poems. And that is why this trip to Greece was so important - it showed me how to get to such a place and the poems I started in Greece and have been working on since I got back are all about this place.

 For more information on the awarded pamphlet, click here.