Author Profile

Leslie Norris

Selected Works

  • Norris's Ark (1988)
  • Ransoms (1970)
  • The Loud Winter (1967)
  • The Girl from Cardigan (1988)

Leslie Norris was born in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales in 1921. His father worked in the mines until he was injured at age 27. He then worked as a milkman. George William Norris was an intelligent man and an avid reader. Norris was influenced by his father's love of reading and followed his example.

Norris knew at 12 that he would be a poet. As a teenager, he would ride his bike to a nearby town to listen to poets Dylan Thomas and Vernon Watkins. Norris' first poem was published in 1938 and his first book of poetry in 1943. But poetry did not pay the bills.

In July 1948 Norris married Catherine (Kitty) Morgan and together they moved to England and trained to be teachers. An excellent teacher, Norris loved what he was doing. Eventually he found himself in administration which was not a good fit. He decided to take a year off work to devote to his writing and never looked back.

He did teach writing in England for many years and became good friends with fine British and Welsh poets like British poet laureate Ted Walker. Norris was eventually elected to the Welsh Academy. Norris had a rich correspondence with Welsh and English writers that included not only letters, but poetry as well.

Norris began doing writer-in-residence programs in the United States. In 1983 he and Kitty came to Provo for what was initially a short stint as writer-in-residence. BYU and Norris were such a good fit that Provo became their home until their deaths. He was a much loved figure at Brigham Young University and became the poet-in-residence of BYU. The university's support made it possible for Norris to concentrate on his writing. Norris died on April 6, 2006.


"Cave Paintings" in Leslie Norris: Collected Poems. Bridgend Wales: Seren, 1996.

"Cave Paintings" appears in Leslie Norris: Collected Poems. These drafts demonstrate how Norris moves from calligraphy to typewriter. The poem was printed in 1975.

In his introduction to Leslie Norris: The Complete Poems, Patrick McGuiness discusses Norris' connection to place: "As for roots, we might also consider the irony that a poet with such a sense of place-Wales, England, America-should also be a poet who aspires to placelessness, who seeks out-for himself and for his art-the intermediary zones, the borders, the places of betweeness. That half-thrown bridge, a no-place from which all places can be observed, along with that moment out of time from which time's relentless flow can be momentarily stilled in words-this is where Norris's poetry is at once rooted and still suspended." "Cave Paintings" describes one of those liminal places.

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Norris, Leslie. "The Vaynor Valley." Calligraphy version.

Norris, Leslie. "The Vaynor Valley" in Leslie Norris The Complete Poems. Meic Stephens, Ed. Bridgend, Wales: Seren, 2008.

The poem that appears in Leslie Norris, The Complete Poems is different than this version done in calligraphy. Part of Leslie's process as a poet often involved intricate holographs like these three pages. The town where Norris was born, Methyr Tidfil, is located in Vaynor Valley, Wales.

Meic Stephens is a writer, editor, educator, and founding literature director of the Wales Arts Council. A good friend of Leslie Norris, he was the editor of the 2008 Leslie Norris: The Complete Poems which contains some poems that had not been published previously.

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