'The winners of the Poetry New Zealand Prize for 2019 are especially enthralling.

Wes Lee’s first prize poem The Things She Remembers #1 is a swoon

of images that shout and burst.' - Emma Shi - 

Book Review: Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2019,

The Reader: The Booksellers New Zealand Blog


'If I had to pick a standout poem, I would point to The Things She Remembers #1

by Wes Lee. It's a terrific poem, that's certainly one to remember.' - 

Harry Ricketts, Book Review - Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2019

Nine to Noon, June 4, Radio New Zealand National


'I was hooked by Wes Lee‘s winning tour-de-force of a poem,

The Things She Remembers #1. Phrases accumulate like a rollercoaster

memory pulling you along in a blaze of sharpness and surprise.'

- Paula Green - review of Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2019

- NZ Poetry Shelf


'The Things She Remembers #1 is a truly remarkable piece...

It completely transfixed me.' – Jack Ross, Poetry New Zealand,

Massey University Press, 2019


'Body, Remember... In this powerful pamphlet, Wes Lee investigates

how the body can play the role of both subject and object... It is this

lack of being that Lee captures so well, this idea that everything’s

present but something’s still missing.' – Callan Waldron-Hall,

Sphinx: Poetry Pamphlet Reviews and Features, 2019


'Autobiography... This is very powerful writing that doesn’t flinch

from difficult, sometimes painful subjects. Dense with visual imagery

Haunted by a sense of enclosure in so many different locations.

‘The wildness I carried away with me’ seems to be the right 

phrase for the narrator and the reader after this collection.' 

– Kerry Featherstone and Carol Rowntree-Jones,

The Overton Poetry Prize 2018


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 WebbRabbit Poetry

Journal, May 2018

‘I like that there’s no commitment to poetry or prose... 

There’s a commitment to incompletion and urgency, fast or slow. 

The work is full of dark intimations and melancholy yet it still seems 

more about the action of feelings, the chemistry somehow. The sentences, lines 

phrases are staccato, sometimes incomplete, as heavy and black as the 

lines themselves on the page. One is pummelled by life and weirdly joyous 

at the incredibly frank state of arrival of their own being 

in writing.’ – Eileen Myles - The Sarah Broom Poetry Prize 2018


‘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, May 2018, Otago University Press

The Way They Live Now... Wonderful! I really love this piece.’ – Sally Rooney

 – The Stinging Fly, May 2018 



‘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.’

– Takahē Magazine, August 2017



Her... A surprising, interesting, and strong poem... telling

a story with economy and power. All three of the winning poets’ voices

are distinctive and assured. I’d like to read more work

by each of them; much more.’ – Anne French

The New Zealand Poetry Society 2018

International Poetry Competition


‘Combines an oblique narrative with poignant emotion.’ – The Overton

Poetry Prize 2017, Loughborough University


‘Wes Lee’s One Summer: Orcas in the Bay drew my attention from its first line... 

The ending is superb, not a let-down, but a polishing before setting 

the experience reverently down.’– Elizabeth Smither 

The Takahē Monica Taylor Poetry Prize 2017


Body, Remember... Amazing poems... very powerful.’

Rosanna Hildyard Eyewear Publishing



Body, Remember... 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 The Big Bookend


‘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 University of Huddersfield Press



'Shooting Gallery... 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 Issue 233, The 70th Anniversary Issue,

Otago University Press, May 2017


‘I really loved Thirsty... an original, funny, and clever story.

There’s so much you could teach about honouring one’s own

unique voice.’ – Laurie Steed Margaret River Press

Shooting Gallery...‘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 - Best Books of 2017


Outside the window the wild world still calls... The prizewinning poems

stood out especially because they had that special gift of being able to create

their own imaginative universes. They were poems that felt almost hermetically

sealed, complete in their structures and images and sounds and rhythms,

poems that were in love with language: they felt in a strange way as if they

had always been written. But they also took risks, formal risks, imaginative risks,

and risks of feeling.’ – Deryn Rees-Jones The Troubadour Poetry Prize


Recovery Room... Powerful poems of witness and survival.’ – Amy Wack The Troubadour Poetry Prize


Glass Eye... a beautifully observed child’s eye portrait of a grandfather.’

– Hannah Lowe Oxford Brookes University

International Poetry Competition

Cowboy Genes... In Wes Lee’s beautiful collection of short fiction,

the shadow of death looms.’ – Michael Stewart 

University of Huddersfield Press


‘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


Farm... a thoroughly imagined piece of writing.’

– Dr. Jack Ross We Society Poetry Prize, Printable Reality


Sand... tonally satisfying and nicely underplayed.’

– Harvey Molloy The NZSA Poetry Competition


Cowboy Genes... Powerful, dynamic short stories.’

– Alex Hopwood - University of Huddersfield



‘I really loved Montauk– it was such an original and beautiful 

piece of writing.’ – Kalinda Ashton The Sleepers Almanac


‘Marvellous work.’ – Vanessa Gebbie


‘Artworld horror and horror of art in the fury of Furious Type.’

– Tim Jones The New Zealand Poetry Society

Poetry Competition


These Last Desires by Wes Lee... fine writing and satisfying construction.’

– Graham Beattie Beattie's Blog


Surgery Dog... is driven and intense. The image of the dog is shocking,

and the last line not only surprised me but told me something new

about the experience of surgery.’ – Pascale Petit 

Cafe Writers Poetry Prize

Deliverance... impressed with its film-noir edge and poignant gestures

to what passes for intimacy in the modern age. It’s a story

that lingers long in the mind.’ – Biscuit Publishing


‘Wes Lee’s The Joy Chair Shockers... I chose the final stories because they are

wonderful. Because they lifted me to heights of understanding, because

they pushed me into those dark places where only writers and mad people go.’

– Amanda Le Bas De Plumetot - Page Seventeen Short Story

& Poetry Competition

Tigers... a wonderful story that dances confidently along that tricky line 

between telling too much and telling too little. This is very fine writing.

It made me envious and it made me cry.’

– Sue McCauley The Bronwyn Tate Memorial Award



‘Like the very best of funny stories, Wes Lee in Advent, set up a wonderful

scenario, and let the humour emerge not through jokes, or witty repartee,

but through the situation itself.’

– Sue Orr The Rodney Writes Premier Award



‘Deftness and pace, plus a powerful emotional content distinguished Ciao Bella.

I was impressed by the allusive, controlled and almost bleak lyricism 

of the writing.’

– David Hill The NZSA National Short Story Competition


‘I was very impressed by Postcard from Paris... complex, sexy, tragic.

Europe was beautifully evoked.’ – Carl Nixon The Page & Blackmore

National Short Story Award



This Moment Between Things... A terrific story. How I love this piece

– it’s really quite delightful – almost deceptive, the way it creeps up on you.’

– Louise Swinn The Sleepers Almanac


‘I have been reading your work over the past few weeks and I am now a big fan 

of your writing.’ – Francesca Main,

Editoral Director, Picador



‘Wes Lee’s Saul explores death with a light touch. Its oblique examination

of what it means to live and what it means to die is strikingly perceptive.’

– Diane Stubbings Meet Some of Austraiia's Best,

Canberra Times 17.12.2011



‘Afterlife... a gorgeous story.’

– Geoff Lemon Going Down Swinging

‘Wes Lee’s Tigers accomplishes a lot in a little time. A story so short has to move 

quickly and with precision... All the more affecting for its subtlety of tone

and delivery.’ – Anthony Caleshu The Short FICTION Prize,

University of Plymouth Press


Unimportant Things... For those who delight in flight and flutter, in lives as rapid

as our own, in pulses that seem to momentarily exist beyond the need

for hearts, these fine stories await and will be worth your time.’

– Toby Litt Talking to Strangers,

The Belvadere Writers Anthology


Plush... From the opening lines I just knew I was going somewhere special.’

– Kate Rotherham The Albury City Short Story Competition


Crash Test Dummies The Gardenia Girls... This is writing of high skill

and insight, writing that knows a lot about life and about writing

and knows that withholding is as vital as telling, writing that relishes control

yet teeters on the brink of losing everything. 

Disturbing yet fruitfully so.’ – Michael Hulse 

City of Derby Short Story Competition



Soon You Won’t See Me... The finalists from this year’s Fish Publishing

Short Story Prize were universally strong, and from these we have selected

winners, we believe, of exceptional virtue.’

– David Mitchell & Carlo Gebler 

The Fish Short Story Prize


Home Movies... Sometimes a story strikes the judge so forcefully that he or she

has a sense that here is the winner even before all the others are considered.

Wes Lee is an accomplished wordsmith.’

– Owen Marshall The Dan Davin Literary Award



Two in the Morning... Your beautiful, impressionistic story was outstanding.’

– Barbara Trapido Ilkley Literature Festival Short Story Prize


Drowning with Garnet... After two lines I was hooked: Haunting, assertive

and refreshing, taking me somewhere different without ever losing me.

A bold piece of work.’

– Robyn Young The New Writer Short Story Prize


‘Wes Lee’s Westerns topped the list. The style and the content and the plot

– the secret history of a recovery - all worked together to create a tight, interesting

story. Dreams rarely work in fiction, but this story proved an exception.’

– David Means The Flosca Prize


‘Wes Lee’s This Moment Between Things... I am looking for stories that take leaps

of pure literary magic, working by a subliminal mysterious process, thus they are

works of alchemy and discovery.’

Kate Braverman The Kate Braverman Short Story Prize

- National League of American Pen Women,

Nob Hill, San Francisco



Postcard from Paris... A strong story at the cutting edge of things.’

– Ron Butlin The William Soutar Writing Prize

Ginnel... A clarity of language and a fine balance of thought and feeling... 

transformative.’ – Neil Astley Poetry London Prize


‘I loved We had a little summer by Wes Lee. There are poems that seem to be 

hardly there at all but move the heart with the least amount

of apparent effort.’

– George Szirtes Essex Poetry Festival

Open Poetry Prize



Sunflowers... a powerful poem, capturing the true horror of the protests

in the Long Kesh incarcerations. A merciless, no-holds-barred poem

with a final image almost out of a Francis Bacon painting.’

– Christopher North Poetry on the Lake



Furniture... This is a very accomplished story that hides its sophistication

beneath language that proceeds effortlessly. Sophisticated in its construction, 

persuasive in its telling, this story is in a class of its own.’

– Lloyd Jones The BNZ Katherine Mansfield Literary Award