Pauline Stainer

Pauline Stainer was commissioned by the Churches Conservation Trust and the Poetry Society to write a celebratory poem to mark the CCT’s 40th anniversary in 2008.

She is an acclaimed English poet. She was born in the industrial district of Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, in 1941. She later left the city to attend St Anne’s College, Oxford, where she took a degree in English. After Oxford she completed an M.Phil degree at the University of Southampton.

Her determinedly neo-romantic poetry, which has won several prizes, explores sacred myth, legend, history-in-landscape, and human feeling – and their connections to the ‘inner landscapes’ of the imaginative mind. Her choice of subject matter is perhaps partly a reaction to her growing up in the industrial city of Stoke-on-Trent.

The compact vividness of her visual imagery is akin to that of the Anglo Saxon riddles, symbolist poetry, or the work of García Lorca. Reviewers have also detected the influence of Ted Hughes in her work.

She was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in 1987. She came to public notice with her first volume, The Honeycomb (1989). Her later volumes, Sighting the Slave Ship (1992) and The Ice-Pilot Speaks (1994) led up to her nomination and shortlisting in the Whitbread Poetry Award for her fourth collection The Wound-Dresser’s Dream (1996).

After completing her education she moved to Essex, raising four children. She spent several years on the Orkney island of Rousay, from which came a new book collection Parable Island (1999). She now lives in Hadleigh, Suffolk, England.