Fiona Sampson, photo by Swithin Fry

Fiona Sampson




  • Invited poet, Maastricht International Poetry Nights, Nederlands.
  • Struga International Poetry Evenings, Macedonia: translation workshop.
  • Romanian Writers' Union Ovidius Festival.
  • Ars Poetica, Slovakia.


  • Zlaten Prsten for international writer, Macedonian Foundation for Culture and the Arts/Literary Academy
  • Jan Smrek International Literature Festival, Bratislava, Slovakia. 
  • Struga International Poetry Evenings, Macedonia. 
  • Vilenica International Literature Festival, Slovenia.
  • Nominee, Prix Evelyne Encelot for European Women Poets (Maison des Ecrivains, Paris).


  • AHRB Research Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts, Centre for Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Oxford Brookes University. A 3-year, £60,000 grant to write a verse-novel, The Distance Between Us.


  • Residency, Fundacion Valparaiso, Spain
  • Kathleen Blundell Trust (Society of Authors) Award
  • Southern Arts/AOSS Residency, Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Vilenica International Writers' Festival, Slovenia


  • Fellowship, Hawthornden Castle International Writers' Centre, Scotland
  • Residency, Fondacion da Casa de Mateus, Portugal
  • Lahti International Writers' Reunion, Finland
  • Residency, International Writers' Colony, Serbian Writers'Union, Chortanovici, Serbia. 

Southern Arts/Finnish Writers' Union Residency, Helskini, Turku and Tampere, Finland.

Arts Council of Wales Writer's Award.

Oppenheimer - John Downes Award.

Society of Authors Award.

Residency, Millay Colony for the Arts, New York State, U.S.

Southern Arts Writer's Award.

Newdigate Prize, University of Oxford.


With Philip Gross, judged the Poetry Society's Foyle Young Poet of the Year Award 2003.

From Autumn 2004 is setting up and teaching a new MA in Creative Writing, Department of English, University of Bucharest.

Teaches on the MA in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Oxford Brookes University and is external examiner for the BA in Creative Writing, Bath Spa University.

Part of the Poetry Society's poetryclass  team of poets since 2001.
See Fiona Sampson's on-line poetry workshop:

University of Sussex:
Co-founder and convenor, Post-Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing and Personal Development
, Visiting Research Fellow, and numerous other training roles



International consultancy work on writing in health and social care: Oslo City Council/Asker Commune October 2001 and Lund University Hospital March 2003.


Hotel Splendide with Swithin Fry, photographer.  
Swindon Borough Council with Swindon Literature Festival.  Swindon Arts Centre from May 2003, Princess Margaret Hospital from June 2003.

The Memory Ship with textile artist Angie Hughes
Ledbury Hospital 2002

Riddle with stonecarver Alec Peever
River Park, High Wycombe 1999 

Stone Dials with Alec Peever
Old Town Cycle Path, Swindon 1997 

My Grandmother - with printmaker Meg Campbell
Visiting Arts 1996 

Birth Chart with Meg Campbell
Southampton District Hospital 1993


Sprung Release with Pauline Stainer
(Southern Arts commission 2001) 

Several radio programmes made by community groups as residency outcomes 

National radio in Romania, Finland, Serbia, Macedonia, Norway.

Features on work in health care include:

  • BBC Radio 4 All in the Mind 3/00 & 4/94, 

  • Woman's Hour 7/95, 12/94 & 7/93 

  • Radio 3 Nightwaves 9/93


Residency at the Ledbury Poetry Festival, 1999

Commissioned publication by the Poetry Society, on poetry and healthcare:  The Healing Word (The Poetry Society, 1999)

Orient Express, a journal of contemporary writing from post-communist Europe (Institute of Social Studies, Den Haag):


Brief History

Tumble of wings. The broken bird
faces nothing. Is a blamming of shoulders against panes,
wings, tail, bunched to the heart's bursting force;
a mop of black feathers in which blood fists and scrubs and fists
against pain.

Afterwards you lift the bird and its eye's sealed
as if resigned to your weakness. As if resisting
the stillness which opens like glass to show
yellow silk creased at the lid, blare of blood on a beak.
Pull the flick-flack stretch of a wing and let it go.

From: "Hotel Casino" (Aark Arts 2004)

The Secret Flowers

Line opening its testament
its urgent revelation.

In the astonished street
your white shirt's a sail folded by wind
your face bright as text

behind the fountain

- white invisible letters


fragments -
polished winter branches
rosettes bouquets frilled ribbons of here
to crowd your chest.

Your petalled throat.

Pull back the curtain:

hot-mouthed poppies

ingress of breeze.

Far-off lament odour of grass

The meaning of flowers is form
is outward movement
moving out of nothing
to nothing.
Cell added
to radiant cell.


the hammock of membrane flexing glimmering




X marks the spot

day-moon hangs in the corridor window
a line flowers in loops and serifs.

And eyes
violet roses
press against me

in your hands in darkness eyes are
night moths among the curtains
among the ceiling-shadows.

Turning back white
lifted lips
of pavement

meeting the intimate current
of what-is.

The sexed, secret, lived-in face
opening with meaning
opening in light
in darkness

under the luminous sheet

the underworld where wild flowers grow.

I enumerate you: skin hair nails
your eyes' lit jelly
also the way your bones and lipid organs turn
towards themselves towards embrace.

Here it is, here is the
metal bolus.

Trees flower in your face,
their shadows are fingers.

Darkness, conturbas me.

Turning back

the café door a shutter falling
lights slide
bitter tongues of coffee falling silent
your eyes hide themselves
under leaves.

the grotesque
beautiful city.
My thief hand under your lapel:

space by space
the inchoate unknown

slowing to presence.


Word branches to word.
Read my palm:
a life
changing itself under your eyes


Your sigh
comes from far away in the Caucasus.

Wind rushing across a continent.

Slowly, slowly

the inward which is outward
turns itself towards us.
Touch me.

Light rushing over the globe.

In the window
lindens swaying
sweet rind on darkness
streetlights in soft places darkness
between trees

your thumb a hook in my mouth
your mouth squeezing my lip
till it loses itself
till my mouth blurs
conturbas me.

In the compartment with its rattling door an attendant
brought sweet cold coffee
on a polished tray.


in the dark room your nipples
concentrations of darkness


starfish crawl your chest.
When I bite them they tighten

Somewhere a wardrobe door slams

undressing you is opening light, darkness,
each time newly shocking. I begin to sweat.

I want -

You stroke the sensitive arch
of my thighs they open
like a vowel


your eyes under their lashes
entirely black
my breasts stretched and tender

setting the white enormous sheet

when I lean over you
your lower lids rise over your eyes
your arms stretch out on the mattress
to hold it back
to topple forward.
I can't -

smelling the private metal smell of wanting
hear me breathe
in the new quiet

day sucking itself back from us

Where are
your too-big thumb rubs my belly-button

I swallow

my finger sliding along the hidden skin
under your jaw

at the end of a hotel corridor

blind thumb
in belly button's rubbed daisy

all day on the boulevard

catching the gut strings and arches of my stomach


white angel of the sheets


your lips squeezing my ear are small soft animals
your breath a warm finger circles my ear

your eyes smelling me

in the room gone too heavy
bruise-shadow of curtains
as I turn my face

struggling the big
many-headed thing

nipples' bruising pebbles

growing in our arms
your honey-jar arse
growing out our arms
loaves of your buttocks
out of and through our bodies


the hundred flights of sky deep humming blue your hair licked with heat
your hands grip my waist runway smudged with roofs and streetlights
sky above and below us pale as bone, as ash, as snow, colour leaving your mouth


into the collapsing in-roaring room


through rooms beds windows open or shut
through days opening closing like desert dunes
like doors


through the long neutral corridor

the mind's eye
that perfect flower
yearning black-tongue stamen


with our spread hands the key

its silver tail flickers. The room's dark.

(From "The Distance Between Us", forthcoming from Seren, 2005.  An earlier version of this poem appeared in Poetry London, Autumn 2003.)

(© Fiona Sampson)


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