Eleanor Rees

Eleanor Rees’ visionary poetry immerses the reader in another world from which they leave transformed. Eleanor received an Eric Gregory Award in 2002 and her first full-length collection, Andraste’s Hair (Salt, 2007), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Irish Glen Dimplex New Writers’ Award. Eleanor’s fourth and most recent collection, The Well at Winter Solstice (Salt, 2019), received a Northern Writers’ Award 2018. As the philosopher Rosi Braidotti wrote, ‘These are poems written in a state of grace, trusting in the infinite wisdom of the universe. And Rees gives us hope that all manner of things shall be well in the end, if we are only able to shift our vision.’ Eleanor Rees is senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Liverpool Hope University and lives in Liverpool.

Photo: Elly Lucas


Border Crossings »

Reading: Eleanor Rees, Oli Hazzard

Sat 7 March | 11:30 - 12:30 | £4.50/£3.50 | Undercroft, St John's House, South Street


From The Well at Winter Solstice

…and outside I turn and the cottage
is stone-dark-blue, no one-light-on,
just tree-shadowed curve to the fence,
and he is sat on a wall on the headland,
back-turned, and he is stood at my side
as if he is my shadow long laid into dark.
The sea slops at the jetty over the rise
as we travel along the stony path,
towards the empty well where he bends
all swollen whole of his liquid self,
dives head first back into the basin,
and I smooth into sleet and high wind
across open sea, all the flush of me
in a strong hold, pushing my spine,
bending my back over into a wave,
speaking into my ears with a cold that pierces,
for my eyes to look through to see the way,
for this mouth to call out to gravity and all force,
for my hands to snap and break to fling,
to take part in the erosion and I am willing,
I can hear it asking in each gesture,
pummelling of pressure; and I cup my hand
and drink him in, my tongue and gullet
flushed with liquid scooped from the well.
Water shines through my bones like glass,
like a sun through cloud it streams
between my legs, out from my mouth,
from my hair which is also water,
rivers of it, waves splash across a forehead
of rain clouds and midwinter mist,
a haze of sea-salted air blooms and blows
as my belly and eyes flood and gush,
palms dip to hold then still again;
and strewn across the winter grass,
over the well-stream which runs to the sea
and into the woods, downy feathers;
and in the undergrowth, a pigeon
red-belly and taloned legs facing the sky.
All the coins have been taken from the well.
A stray penny lies on the wet stone.
In an alcove, two twigs bound with dried grass
and a red candle burnt down low.

Eleanor Rees

From The Well at Midnight Solstice (Salt, 2019)