extracts & links





'Julie Sampson’s collection, Fivestones, interweaves a number of themes: the natural landscape, voices from the past including figures from history, writers or ancestors and also modern technology. Indeed, an interesting feature of the collection is how the poems speak both of the past and of contemporary life simultaneously.


In her writing about the natural landscape Sampson skilfully inverts the human presence within it. People can only be located in relation to the natural world around them. In ‘Lost in Galloway’ the speaker is ‘west of the pink-footed geese’ and ‘east of that red squirrel.’  There are many striking images in the poems. In ‘Only We Were Left’ we see ‘reed-beds with floating icons / of white –’ and in ‘On Such A Day’ on an autumn day ‘cyclamens will ghost the dying garden red.’


 The natural landscape that Sampson speaks so eloquently of is also populated by people from the past. In ‘Roots’ when observing plants growing around Budleigh, the speaker remembers her grandmother who died when she was very young:


‘I recall her forbears from these parts

Their fossil footfall litters the sandstone landscapes of this place.’


Likewise in ‘Mothers Of The Ancient Moor’ the speaker’s ancestors still inhabit the moorland:


Mine were silent.

Reclusive mothers of the ancient moor,

each found a niche inside the shelter of a granite shelf,

a closet cocooned with moss or fern,

there she cosseted, shielded her extended brood ....


...  the overall effect of the collection is to present the reader with an enigmatic and haunting experience. Fivestones is an impressive collection of work'.


 (Extracts from review of Sally Long, Editor Allegro Poetry Magazine. I am so grateful to Sally for her insightful review). See the full review here at Allegro Reviews)



'The title poem of this engaging and evocative collection addresses many of the author’s key themes – childhood, memory, the changing rural landscape and/or significant personal landscapes, and the poem ends with a reference to Nemetona – Celtic goddess of the sacred grove:


and Nemetona,

She grounds the dissipating energies

anchors us into rootedness.


Nemetona (I will confess I had to look her up) is absolutely the governing spirit of the collection, anchoring Sampson into her roots, honouring and reverencing those woods and rivers and groves, and celebrating the work of some ‘goddesses’ of poetry. Additionally, Nemetona is Celtic but – I gather – often linked with the Roman god Mars (god of war and agriculture), and Sampson is appropriately conscious of the history of the Roman legions in her part of Devon, and the recent archaeological finds linked to them, not to mention the ubiquitous and transformative effects of agriculture on her significant landscapes....


... In ‘Geni-Loci’ Sampson says:

as you stroll through grass or bend to pick the

pretty flower, ponder on this – each stem from a

seed sprung from us under this tongue of

Devon’s red earth.

No, it wasn’t easy for us.

Find us here in the old groves

trace the ancient way to its source.

Allow the dowsers with their rods,

they might find what you will not.


I think that Sampson writes very much as a dowser, whether for old herepaths, for underground waterways, or for histories – her own and those of other writers. I enjoyed this atmospheric collection and I recommend it, particularly to country lovers and others who are aware of the histories written in and on our changing landscapes'.


(Extracts from review by Rowena Somerville, see the full review in High Window Autumn 2023. Thank you also David Cook, Editor of High Window. 




'... Sampson’s poems always reveal a sensitive observation and compassionate examination of the world around her, both natural and human. They resonate with her love of her home county of Devon, exploring her childhood memories of growing up on Dartmoor, and her more conscious sense of rootedness as an adult living in the West Country'. (Extract from review of Miriam Hastings, Goodreads)




It Was When It Was When It Was



"These are not only poems of seductive and succulent detail. As Julie Sampson makes clear early in the collection, her project is to show the fruits of being fully in the present in our lives,  in our family stories".  Alasdair Paterson 


“This sequence is a journey into Julie Sampson’s childhood and her family’s past. Through her own recollections of her parents and grandparents together with memories handed down to her, she re-creates a lost rural way of life as well as her own childhood. The details are telling, the writing elegiac as she shares with the reader the closeness she feels with her family’s past and the world they lived in: its stone walls, churchyards, rooks, badgers, cows and farm kitchens.” Myra Schneider


“Julie Sampson writes of the ties that bind and the threads that link us with our ancestors and the natural world with an enviable fluidity. Her attention to detail evokes worlds within worlds.” Sue Sims



Tessitura (2013)

 'A true wordsmith, she uses language to weave complex patterns that resonate with implicit meanings, haunting and strange ... In Sampson's poems, lives cross, weave between each other like a web or a cat's cradle; there is a potent awareness of layers of time, sometimes running parallel, sometimes touching.'  

    Miriam Hastings, in review of Tessitura .



'Tessitura has a message and, setting aside some integral delightful and intelligent writing, this is one very good reason for reading it ... Sampson is clearly interested in the direction some other poets are also now exploring - replacing the finite, 'realised' individual poem with work more fluid and multiple-stranded (or layered) in subject matter, often evincing fascination with language 'for its own sake' as opposed to more tightly organised rhetorical construction.'

        Dilys Wood, in Artemis Poetry, Issue 13, November 2014  (Second Light)