Wes Lee is a poet and short story writer based in Wellington, New Zealand
Her poetry pamphlet Body, Remember was launched in September 2017 by Eyewear Publishing in London. Her previous collections include Shooting Gallery (Steele Roberts, 2016), and Cowboy Genes (Grist Books, University of Huddersfield Press, 2014)
Her writing has appeared in a wide array of literary journals and anthologies in the UK, New Zealand, and Australia, including, New Writing Scotland, The London Magazine, Poetry New Zealand, Poetry London, Magma, Westerly, New Writing Dundee, Landfall, Going Down Swinging, The Stony Thursday Book, Cordite, Riptide, Turbine, Hue & Cry, Remembering Oluwale, Driftfish: A Zoomorphic Anthology of Oceanic Life, Shibboleth & other stories (Margaret River Press), Irises: The University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor's Poetry Prize Anthology 2017, and The Stinging Fly.
She was the 2010 recipient of The BNZ Katherine Mansfield Literary Award, New Zealand’s foremost award for the short story, and has won a number of prizes for her writing, including, The Short Fiction Writing Prize (University of Plymouth Press); The Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Award, in Ireland; The Bronwyn Tate Memorial Award, in New Zealand, and The Saboteur Awards Best Anthology 2017, in London.
Most recently she was selected by American poet Eileen Myles as a finalist for the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize 2018; awarded 2nd place in The Takahē Monica Taylor Poetry Prize 2017, and shortlisted for The Overton Poetry Prize 2017 for a sequence of poems, at Loughborough University in the UK.
Eyewear Publishing launches Body, Remember in London as part of the Lorgnette Series 2017
Body, Remember takes its title from a poem by the Greek poet C.P. Cavafy, who, in sensuous imagery, illuminates the persistence and power of the body-memory of desire. Conversely, in this pamphlet, Lee addresses the body’s capacity to hide, to deceive, and draw a veil of silence, to create a blank space within when faced with trauma.
‘Body Remember and Shooting Gallery... I was delighted by her ability to explore form and deploy a lucid, image-laden, evocative sense in her writing... I kept thinking as I read these collections what they constantly achieve is aligned with the logic of écriture féminine, and of what Irigaray promised us women writers would eventually achieve: ‘Don’t weep. One day we will learn to say ourselves’. – Jen Webb, Rabbit Poetry Journal, RMIT
‘These poems are quiet, controlled and sparse, with an accurate ear for rhythm. Body, Remember is a satisfyingly cohesive collection, each poem adding something to the previous and the next. I found them intense, strong and immensely powerful.’ – Diane Brown - Landfall Review Online, Otago University Press
‘In Body, Remember, Wes Lee catalogues a ‘domino of broken things’ with deft poignancy and dark humour. She draws our attention to the fact, that even as we read and breathe, our bodies are in a state of breaking.’ – Michael Stewart
‘Wes Lee's beautiful, sobering collection gives a skeleton upon which to hang the intangible. It speaks to transience, to trauma, to the inevitability of time passing.’ – S. J. Bradley
‘Amazing poems... very powerful.’ – Rosanna Hildyard
‘Eyewear Publishing is an independent press based in London. Strongly poetry focused, we bring readers a varied list, kept coherent by our dedication to presenting writing of the highest quality from the UK and overseas, from new and established figures. Through our annual Melita Hume Poetry Prize, and Pamphlet Series, we discover, support and develop exciting new talent.’ – Todd Swift
Wes Lee's debut collection of poetry Shooting Gallery launched in May 2016 by Steele Roberts in Wellington
‘Shooting Gallery is stunning. The poems are assured, brave, and many have already been published in a wide array of NZ and international journals... The body is prime. And although throughout the collection pain and indignity are often a given, there is also a glorying in the physical, the sensual; there is verve, and poems that punch the air celebrating survival... It is striking that in these poems, no one is judged. The first thing that Wes Lee concerns herself with in Shooting Gallery is the humanity of each person. Here, the last shall be first, and she ensures that, in this marvellous collection, we know why this should be the case.’ – Carolyn McCurdie (Takahē Magazine)
“The body is where you begin” could be a tag for this whole book of short sharp poems that knock against your skull. There’s a woman living in a car, there’s a clown living in you, there’s a couple living in a barn with a dog and a boar, there’s a memory living in a hotel, there’s a self living in a mirror ... A book stuffed with tough stuff.’ – Murray Edmond (NZ Poetry Shelf)
‘This is a collection of devastating beauty and power. It's rare to find poetry that can convey so much, with such brevity.’ – SJ Bradley, author of Brick Mother, and editor, The Big Bookend
‘With remarkable economy, Wes Lee conjures striking poetic images of the contemporary world.’ – Demos Journal
‘There are times in this tough-minded and tender-hearted book when you are persuaded that your odds are not good. On the other hand there are moments – and moments matter for Wes Lee – when the balance of the universe tips back in your favour.’ – Murray Edmond (Landfall 233: The 70th Anniversary Issue)
Launched at the Huddersfield Literature Festival in 2014, Cowboy Genes brings together a selection of Wes Lee’s short fiction
‘Of the five stories in Cowboy Genes, three struck me: Diseases from Space, The Gardenia Girls, and especially Crash Test Dummies. If you are weary of cheap cynicism being passed off as profundity, you’ll feel great empathy for Victor, the central character of this story, who yearns for things that are life-changing, life-affirming.’ – Jim Greenhalf (Telegraph & Argus)
‘A poignant and accomplished short story collection.’ – Jazz Croft (NZ Booklovers)
‘In Wes Lee’s beautiful collection of short fiction, the shadow of death looms.’ – Michael Stewart (Cafe Assassin, 2015)