Poolside Poems: Janet Sutherland

‘Sea Level’ by Janet Sutherland is the second poem to go on display at Pells Pool as part of our 2016 season celebration of the close links between water and creativity.

Writer-in-residence Tanya Shadrick, curator for the poolside displays, is a long-time follower of Janet’s work. “I love the range of her poetry. She moves between poems of philosophical complexity – ‘Is It Possible to Fold a Watermelon’ appeared in The London Magazine this year and is a favourite of mine – and close meditations on place and our relationships within it.”

Of ‘Sea Level’, Tanya says: “It captures for me – and I hope for other Lewesians – the strange shifts of perspective which happen in this town, and at Pells Pool in particular. We live in the bowl of the dry-looking Downs and yet there is an aquatic sensation often to our lives here: How the water levels can rise so suddenly, and then of course there is the sunken treasure feel to this stretch of springwater hidden away behind its flint wall.”

Swimmers of all ages have been seen resting their chins on the pool-edge between laps, reading Martin’s Gayford’s poem “Sorry to Interrupt Your Peace” and Tanya has particularly enjoyed discussing the words with groups of school students: “And I look forward to Janet’s poem – like Martin’s – offering visitors a chance for quiet meditation or the opportunity for a good talk.”

If you’d like to read more of Janet’s work while poolside, she has kindly gifted two of her collections – Burning the Heartwood and Hangman’s Acre – to our Swimming-Pool Library.

Janet Sutherland was born in Wiltshire and grew up on a dairy farm. She has an MA in American Poetry from the University of Essex. Bone Monkey (April 2014) is her third full length collection. Her poems are widely anthologised: from The Virago Book of Love Poetry and The New British Poetry 1968-88 (Paladin) to Fanfare (Second Light Publications, 2015) . Her essay ‘Reznikoff and his Sources’ appeared as an afterword to the recent Black Sparrow/Five Leaves editions of Reznikoff’s Holocaust. Her work has been translated into Polish and Slovenian. A founder member of the Needlewriters cooperative, she lives in Lewes, East Sussex.

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