Sarah James

the possibilities of poetry…

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I’m delighted to have my first festival screening as a poetry filmmaker! The news that one of my poetryfilms is to be included in the 2020 International Film Festival of Thuringia this October is especially amazing as I had originally been due to talk about and share one of my other poetryfilms this autumn at the Swindon Big Poetry Weekend festival, unfortunately postponed because of Covid-19.

The 2020 International Film Festival of Thuringia will be taking the form of online festival from 22-24 October 2020 and my film Women Not To Be has been selected to be part of the Women in Resistance program. Women in Resistance demonstrates the central role of women’s narratives and feminism in today’s poetry film and video poetry. Besides the online screenings, there will also be a program of live streams during the festival. Women in Resistance will stream on October 23, at 6 pm (CET) and all of the movies will be available for three weeks, from October 22 to November 12, on the festival website within a password-protected area to make sure that all festival guests have sufficient time to watch individual programs and films. The ticket for entering the site costs 10 Euro and can be purchased from September 15 to November 12.


I’m really delighted to share the news that my multimedia hypertext narrative > Room has been reviewed on Sabotage Reviews.

“[…]This plays into one of the most fruitful ambiguities of > Room, the ambiguity of the internal and external. It’s a testament to James’ writing that this slippage between the body of the poem, the body of the speaker and their mental state itself, seems an organic part of the claustrophobic structure of the poem.

Reading > Room, I felt like the goal of the navigational aspect of the reading was escape, and the end engages with that drive through QR codes in a way I thought was fantastic. Discussing it here might feel like a spoiler so I won’t.

Enter > Room here

Harry Buckoke, Sabotage Reviews, full review here


I was chuffed to be invited back onto the Kate Justice evening show on BBC Hereford and Worcester on Tuesday, 8 Sept to share two of my poems and to chat about poetry, creativity in these ongoing Covid-19 times and my new commission for Worcester Art Gallery. The show is available to listen to online on the BBC for 29 days after the original broadcast here and I’m on first at around 3hrs 21 mins in, then again at around 3hrs 45 mins in.



The last six months have been tough, and it feels like the winter ahead is going to be tougher than usual, given the ongoing Covid-19 situation. So I decided to cheer myself up, and hopefully others too, by putting together a little something that is light-hearted and warmth-filled.

Lines of Love is a short online (hypertext) magazine style questionnaire that ends with a love poem recommendation. The project was inspired by a similar questionnaire that I put together a few years ago for my role as a library poet in residence – focussing too on love of books and libraries. I was also asked to play a fun ‘love laureate’ role at a local couple’s wedding using a similar questionnaire with recommended love poem, and also using some of the responses to create a crowd-sourced poem for the happy couple.

The free online version only takes a few minutes and can be found here: Lines of Love. Take a look, feel some love, get a love poem and if you enjoy the experience, please do share with friends too.


Another Storm (flash) shortlisted (and published) in the Tortive Theatre Flash Fiction 101 August competition in Sept 2020;

After (flash) longlisted (and published) in the Reflex Fiction Summer 2020 Reflex flash fiction competition in Sept 2020.


Coming to Terms with Trying to Make Your Name or The Anguish of Author Biographies published on The Blue Nib in Sept 2020.


Autumn and Covid-19 have me approaching full-on hibernation mode now. The great thing about this mood though is that it’s perfect for curling up indoors with a good book.

I’m delighted to have a review of the Maria Taylor’s Dressing for the Afterlife (Nine Arches Press) up on Everybody’s Reviewing here.

It has been a while since I last blogged…but it means I have lots of exciting news and projects to share.

Firstly, I’m delighted that my poem Waiting/Outlook has won first prize in the 2020 Waltraud Field International Poetry Competition!!!

From the Art Gallery with Love x Commission

My other big news is a successful proposal for From the Art Gallery with Love x project. My commission for Worcester City Art Gallery includes creating A Modern Mosaic of Worcestershire using photographs for the tiles, a hypertext poem and a poetryfilm. All three parts of the project are inspired by the gallery’s painting A Prospect of Worcester from the East (c. 1750 and attributed to John Harris the Younger). The project is very exciting, and I’m really excited to share the results with people. More about my commission can be found here.


I’m absolutely delighted to have my poem The Cat Cafe longlisted in the Write Out Loud Covid-19 competition to raise funds for NHS Charities. It will now be published in an anthology of 100 poems selected from the more than 2,000 entries. This Write Out Loud Beyond the Storm competition anthology can be ordered here. (After covering unit costs and administration costs, Write Out Loud will give also be giving all surplus from anthology sales to the charity.)

Below, you can hear me reading the poem for the Poetry Archive.

Not our neighbours’ place (poem) longlisted in Penfro Poetry Competition 2020 in Aug 2020;

More than ‘Structurally Unsafe’ (poem) published in Words for the Wild New Build issue in Aug 2020;

Marcasite (poem) published in London Grip in Sept 2020;

Orbiting Redditch and While Visiting (poems) in New Towns anthology (Wild Pressed Books) in Sept 2020;

Knot Me, Hedgehog Pinball, Anything but E.C.T, Mâché and “One Wild And Precious Life” (poems) published in The Mountains You Cannot See an anthology of poetry about metal health (Slice of the Moon Books) in Aug 2020;

Clotted Moons (flash) published on Fictive Dream on 12 July 2020;

The Dream Machine (flash) on Every Day Fiction on 17 Aug 2020;

Wrecked (flash) shortlisted in the Tortive Theatre Flash Fiction 101 July competition in Aug 2020;


I was delighted to be the judge for Gloucestershire Writers’ Network poetry competition 2020 with a theme of ‘My World’ and had a delightful start to August immersing myself in the entries. The results have now been announced and can be found on the GWN website here.

My big congratulations to the winning poets and fiction writers, and to everyone who entered in a year where Covid-19 has had a massive effect on us all. I’m very much looking forward now to the winners’ anthology. (And very delighted too to have been asked to contribute a couple of poems myself.) I’m also very much looking forward to hearing the winners and reading some of my own poems for this year’s Cheltenham Literature Festival event on Sunday, October 4 at 5pm. Details of this and tickets here.

I have been slower than usual in keeping up with blog news. (2020 has been that kind of year!) But some weeks back, I was delighted to hear that one of my In the Booklight interviews had been referenced in The Telegraph as part of a piece about Geraldine Clarkson’s wonderful new collection Monica’s Overcoat of Flesh (Nine Arches Press). The Telegraph article is here, and my interview with Geraldine about an earlier poetry pamphlet here.

I was delighted too to see my poetryfilm ‘And his open mouth is an olive grove’ included in Helen Dewbery’s wonderful article about poetryfilm for The Blue Nib. You can find the article (with link to ‘And his open mouth is an olive grove’) here.

The Sunday Tribune online has also run a fantastic article about my Arts Council England funded multimedia hypertext poetry narrative > Room, that you can read here. A podcast interview with me about > Room, poetry and living with diabetes has also just been released by Spoken Label here.

I’m delighted to have a poem The Two-Metre Mantra accepted for a fundraising pandemic anthology project set up by Z.D. Dicks. More details about this and The Crowdfunder page for it can be found here. I’m very pleased too to have been invited to read at the launch of Z.D. Dicks’ latest poetry collection Vexed on Monday, 14 September 2020. More about the collection and launch can be found here.

A Plague On All Our Houses is a lockdown poetryfilm collaboration with filmmaker Andrew Curtis. It’s based on a short poetry sequence – a lockdown Romeo and Juliet – written especially for Andrew to use for the film. I also have a slightly longer page-poem version of the whole sequence featuring emails between the two characters who live in different cities, so have to isolate separately during the pandemic.

Although created as a poetryfilm, I’m absolutely delighted that the audio narrative A Plague On All Our Houses was also broadcast on BBC Radio Gloucestershire Evening Show with Jon Smith on Thursday, July 9. This is available to listen again online for around three weeks here. The first part is at 3hrs 10 mins in and the second part just before 3hrs 22 mins.

Covid-19 and lockdown haven’t been easy. I’ve been very lucky personally that none of my loved ones have caught the virus. It almost seems frivolous to write or worry about anything else at the moment. But work, life and writing are still there – if cast in an entirely different light and perspective by everything that is going on in the world right now. A small sliver of my personal experience of the past few months, including time, nature and the nature of time can be found in my article The Writing Mind’s Underlands and the Perspective of Time on The Blue Nib. This also takes in lockdown lethargy (writer’s block), my collaborative poetryfil lockdown love story, acute and chronic projects, and reading Robert Macfarlane’s amazing Underland and Alison Brackenbury’s beautiful Skies.

On the BBC

I was really delighted to be invited onto BBC Hereford & Worcester’s The Evening Show with Kate Justice for a short interview and to share two of my poem. I had a really lovely time chatting with Kate, and it was great to perform People Scare Me Because… and Doing the School Run with Freud for her and The Evening Show listeners. You can listen to this here. I’m on about 3 hrs 24 mins through, and then again around 3 hours 42 mins. (The replay should be available for about 3 weeks after this blogpost.)

Other poetry news

Not quite vintage (poem) wins fourth prize in the Evesham Festival of Words Poetry Competition 2020 with its theme of Thinking outside of the box in June 2020.

Singing Everyone a Home (poem) published in DOORS anthology in aid of Bromsgrove and Redditch Welcome Refugees in June 2020 and is available on the BRWR website here;

I’m delighted to have some haiku featured in an Ingestre Orangery inspired poetryfilm ‘missive voices.’ by Mal Dewhirst.

My review of Hush by Majella Kelly (Ignition Press) for The High Window can be found here.

I’m also pleased to have a poem, Twist, accepted for 14, a poem, In the Dream-Catcher Hung by a 40th-Storey Window at Fallsview, Niagara for Kissing Dynamite‘s anthology PUNK (due out later this summer), and another poem, Perturbing Paws for Thought, accepted for Purr Fect Poems anthology (Dream Well) in support of Stafford & District Cats Protection.

Fiction news

I’m chuffed to have a flash, After, longlisted in the Reflex Fiction Summer 2020 Flash Fiction Competition. It will be published online some time over the summer and also in the Reflex Fiction anthology next summer.

I’m very happy too to have a flash, Shipwrecked, longlisted in the Lightbox Originals photo-inspired 100-word story competition.

This is a poetry film version of my poem Singing Everyone a Home (poem) published in DOORS anthology in aid of Bromsgrove and Redditch Welcome Refugees in June 2020, available on the BRWR website here.

A longer launch video featuring several poems from the pamphlet can be enjoyed here.


April was a cruel month here on the writing front as well as Covid19. On the poetry front at least, May and June have come in delightful contrast.

I was stunned and over the proverbial moon to win the open category of this year’s Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine. Although my poem People Scare Me Because… isn’t directly about my diabetes, it’s about some of the psychological effects of this chronic condition/my diagnosis with this disability.

The 2020 Hippocrates Prize Anthology is available on the Hippocrates Prize website here and a video of me reading the poem below.


I’ve also asked for some of my prize money to fund a limited number of free entries for the Hippocrates Prize for writers on low incomes (one poem each for 10 poets in the Hippocrates Prize Open Category and 10 poets in the Hippocrates Prize Health Professional Category). So please do look out for that when the 2021 prize opens for entries.


Room 38 tope layer

My Hippocrates Prize news also leads indirectly into the fabulous news that I’d been successful in getting Arts Council England funding for a collection-length hypertext multi-media poetry narrative > Room. It’s been a lot of work but also a lot of fun busy working on this, and can your explore the results here.

These poems are particularly close to my heart as living with type one diabetes from the age of six hasn’t been easy – for me, or those around me!

> Room hasn’t long been live but already I’ve had feedback about its accesibility, interactiveness and labyrinthine qualities. It’s early days, but other descriptions have included ‘exciting’, ‘thrilling’, ‘moving’, ‘powerful’, ‘inventive’ and ‘intriguing’. What do you think? If you have a chance to explore it, I’d love to hear how you find > Room.


Holiday Lets commended in The Beach Hut Coastal Writing for Wellness Competition in May 2020;
Stargazing in the Waiting Room highly commended in the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Dublin’s Poetry Competition in celebration of Poetry Day Ireland 2020 in April 2020;
Beside the bed selected for PITTOC Volume Two anthology in May 2020. Proceeds from this volume of PITTOC (Poetry in the Time of Conoavirus) are to benefit Doctors Without Borders and Partners In Health. My link is for UK amazon, but it’s also available on


This poetryfilm is also featured, with my poem The lockdown school day, on Bromsgrove council website here, along with poems from other local poets;
The lockdown school day on Pendemic in May 2020;
The day we disappeared (flash with a hypertext twist) published on Ellipsis Zine in May 2020;
In hollowed oak… (art) and Writing Life and More than snapshots (poems) published in Irisi Hope issue in May 2020;
The Changing Landscape (poem) published on Poetry in Public in May 2020;
Along our coastline (poem) on The Beach Hut in May 2020;
Knives and Forks (flash) published on Fragmented Voices in May 2020;
Katherina’s Hair Chronicles (poem) in Abridged 0-19 Eris in May 2020;
Still a chance (drawing) and Watering the light (photo) in Flash Frontier in May 2020;
Churning Perspectives (poem) on The Glow of Emerald Light photo challenge 2 in May 2020;
Strange Orbits (poem) on Atrium in May 2020;
The Rising Sun (poem) published on The Poetry Village in April 2020;
Doing the School Run with Freud (poem) published in About Larkin in April 2020;
Sudden and Not Mercury (poems) published in Unpsychology 6 The Other-Than-Human anthology in April 2020, pages 134 and 135, available here.
Unpsychology 6 v1


Other new advance publication news includes my review of Hush by Majella Kelly (Ignition Press) for The High Window this autumn.

I’m also delighted to have acceptances for:
two poems (on Redditch and Welwyn Garden City) accepted for the Wild Pressed Books ‘New Towns’ anthology, edited by Rob Francis;
five poems for the climate change/eco anthology Earth, We Are Listening (Slice of The Moon Books);
five poems for the mental healthy anthology The Mountains You Cannot See (Slice of The Moon Books);
Clotted Moons (flash) on Fictive Dream on 12 July 2020;


I am delighted to be the poetry judge for this year’s Gloucestershire Writers’ Network 2020 Competition, supported by The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival. The theme is ‘My World’ and the deadline is early July 2020. Full details about the competition and how to enter can be found here. Please do follow the instructions carefully, particularly making sure your entry is anonymous.


I’m absolutely over the moon that my poem ‘People Scare Me Because’ is shortlisted in the open category of this year’s Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.The final decisions are announced in May and I’ve had a fun time recording a video reading of the poem for the virtual award ceremony in the second Poems to Live for live-streamed Zoom session which will start at 9pm UK time on Friday, 15 May. Meantime, I’m keeping busy so I don’t have time to get too excited or too nervous about it!

With my editor’s hat on, I also have fingers crossed for two V. Press authors, Diane Simmons and Damhnait Monaghan, whose flash fiction novellas An Inheritance and The Neverlands are both shortlisted in this year’s Saboteur Awards for Best Novella. More on this and how to vote for them here!


Kaleidoscope audio cover

Like a lot of authors, I’ve lost out on work because of the current lockdown. But I do have a new book out – an audiobook recording of me reading the whole of Kaleidoscope is now available on:

Audible using this link;
iTunes in the app store;
Amazon UK on this link; on this link.


A poetryfilm version of my poem Model Child from Vindication (Arachne Press) can be enjoyed below.

The Vindication anthology is available from Arachne Press here.

One of the reasons for making the above film is the Covid-19 lockdown, with traditional book reading and online poetry readings and experiences needing to fill the gap created by people being unable to go out to actual poetry events.

It’s also a time when poems can not only entertain or distract us but potentially help lighten the load and uplift. I was delighted to hear from the fabulous Brenda Read-Brown at Poetry on Loan that she was going to feature my commissioned postcard poem ‘And counting…’ on the Poetry on Loan website front page for this reason. You can read the poem here and it comes with my love and good health wishes to you all.

I’ve also created a poetryfilm of my Guillemot Press anthology poem ‘From Wild Sargasso Seas…” This can be enjoyed along with other eel poems here or by clicking play on the video below.


My poem Doing the School Run with Freud which was shortlisted and won a special mention in the East Riding Festival of Words Poetry Competition 2019 can be read here.
Through Our Letterbox (poem) in Caduceus 102 in March 2020;
In hollowed oak – a short owlish meditation on mothering (CNF flash) on The Blue Nib‘s The Write Life in March 2020;
Hidden histories and Worcester’s Second-hand Store (poems) on Nine Muses poetry on 2 April 2020;
Keeping Guard used as the cover image and published within Door Is A Jar Literary Magazine, Issue 14 Spring 2020 in April 2020, available in paperback here and as an ebook here;
Yin & Yang (photo) in Door Is A Jar Literary Magazine, Issue 14 Spring 2020 in April 2020, available in paperback here and as an ebook here;
About Halving (flash) in Door Is A Jar Literary Magazine, Issue 14 Spring 2020 in April 2020, available in paperback here and as an ebook here;
At White Lake on Spelk in April 2020;
The Nook and the Knack and Our Time (poems) published on Good Dadhood on 5 April 2020;
Apocalypses Don’t Start This Way (poem) published in Capsule Stories‘s special pandemic edition in April 2020, more info and e-editions are available here on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


‘watering the light’ (photo) and ‘still a chance’ (eco-inspired ink-drawing) for Flash Frontier in April;
‘The Darkest Well’ (poem) for Black Bough Poetry, issue 6 in April/May 2020;
‘Strange Orbits’ (poem) for publication on Atrium Poetry on 29 May 2020;
‘Cocktail Dreams’, ‘Uncaught’, ‘Nanna dances’ and ‘Tidemarked’ (poems) for publication in the autumn issue of The High Window;
‘Along our coastline’ (poem) for publication on The Beach Hut in April/May;
‘The day we disappeared’ (flash with a hypertext twist) for Ellipsis on May 4;


Unfortunately, this year’s Hastings Litfest has been cancelled, including the flash fiction competition that I was due to judge. However, I am delighted to be the poetry judge for this year’s Gloucestershire Writers’ Network 2020 Competition, supported by The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival. The theme is ‘My World’ and the deadline is early July 2020. Full details about the competition and how to enter can be found here. Please do follow the instructions carefully, particularly making sure your entry is anonymous.

I’ve had a relaxed but lovely start to 2020, matching the end of 2019. I don’t really believe in resolutions specific to new year. But July 2020 will be ten years since my first collection Into the Yell was published by Circaidy Gregory and at the end of last year, I decided that much my work at V. Press needed to slow enough to give me more space as a person and as a writer. I’ve felt quite introverted and somewhat isolated as a writer over the past few years, partly because of the workload involved with running a press. I love V. Press and the poetry and flash that we publish, so this won’t be stopping, I’m just building in more time for me to get out and see places, enjoy new experiences and meet more people.


I started the year by judging the Against The Grain Poetry Press poetry competition, something which I wouldn’t have had time or space to do in other years as the competition had nearly 600 poems entered. The results and my judge’s report/comments can be found here. (See the end of this blogpost too for news of a flash fiction competition that I’m judging.)

Shepton Mallet reading 20200215_144910 (1)      Shepton Mallet Award 20200215_145736


I’m absolutely stunned and delighted that my poem ‘Quiet Curves’ has won this year’s Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival Poetry Competition judged by Jane Draycott. The festival also runs a photography competition, a display of the shortlisted photos and poems, a poetry anthology and an award reading. It was humbling to hear the beautiful poems across the different age ranges and I the stunning quality too of the photos across the different age groups – I can away awed and inspired!

Sarah Leavesley magical profile picI’m absolutely delighted too that my poem ‘Landlords and lodgers’ – inspired by the owls that live at my parents’ converted barn – has won first prize in the Barn Owl Trust Poetry Competition 2019 and been published in the Wildlife Words Volume 6 anthology.

I’ve also enjoyed a trip up north for the East Riding Festival of Words Poetry Competition 2019 prize-giving in Bridlington, where my (humorous) poem ‘Doing the School run with Freud’ won a special mention (top 8). It’s quite a journey from where I live, but gave me a chance to explore York (my first visit to the stunning city) while I was up there. The competition theme was ‘My mind, my thoughts’ and it was great to here the range and slants the winning poems took on this. I don’t often write humorously, so it was also particularly lovely to hear one of the judges, The Philip Larkin Society’s Literary Adviser & Co-Editor of About Larkin James Booth comment on how funny my poem was. I came away with an extra glow from his kind words.

I’m super chuffed too to have had a microfiction, ‘Spinning’, shortlisted in the National Flash Fiction Day 2020 Micro Fiction Competition. National Flash Fiction Day is a fabulous annual day-long celebration of flash and takes place on Saturday, 6 June, 2020.


How to Grow with award croppedI’m also absolutely delighted to have had a new review of How to Grow Matches (Against The Grain Poetry Press) by Helena Nelson. The review means a lot because Helen Nelson is someone I particularly admire on numerous counts, as a poet herself, her work as a publisher at HappenStance and also in running the Sphinx/OPOI review site. A snippet from the review can be found below, but I’d really urge people to check out the whole thing and the Sphinx/OPOI site.

“This is a poet who most of the time avoids the first person and slips more readily into second-person mode, the kind of ‘you’ the reader can easily identify with. […] More unusually, words themselves, and their complex sounds (S. A. Leavesley is exceptionally sensitive to sound), become their own metaphor. They are dangerously alive and can be active barriers to communication, especially in the context of love.”

Helena Nelson, Sphinx/OPOI (One Point of Interest), full review here.

The pamphlet is available from the Against The Grain Press shop here!!!

It can also be ordered from the Poetry Book Society here.


Publications include:

A Cacophony of Lovers‘ (flash) in Bending Genres, Dec 2019;
Still the Apple‘ on Words for the Wild, Dec 2019;
Steps‘ and ‘Dead bunny season‘ (poems) on Apex Poetry in Jan 2020;
Sammy‘ (flash) for Fictive Dream on February 16;
Among the Buddleia‘(flash) for Reflex Fiction in February 17;
‘Rarely’ (flash) in the Museum of Walking’s Autumn Colours flash competition anthology chapbook published by Sampson Low – more on the anthology and inspiration behind the winning flashes can be found here and copies of the limited edition anthology can be bought here;
‘A Cacophony of Lovers’ (flash) in the Bending Genres Anthology 2018-2019;
From Poetry to Prose in a Flash‘ article on flash from a poet’s viewpoint on The Blue Nib on March 9;
International Swimming Pool Rules‘ (a hermit crab flash) for Ink Sweat & Tears on March 9;
My Last Angel‘ (poem) on Dear Reader on March 11;
In the leaves‘ (flash) on Mookychick (March 13).

P1100767 'Different kinds of flight or Haunted Beach' at Northcott Mouth

A series of connected articles featuring travel on a smaller scale has also been featured on The Blue Nib. ‘Becoming a wing-thru’ features seven daily pieces about discovering self and nature through cycling. It’s also a series about raising environmental awareness, overcoming depression and poetry appreciation of work by various nature-inspired poets. It includes some of my own accompanying photo-poems. The various parts can be read by following the links below:
Becoming a wing-thru: Part One – Rediscovery;
Becoming a wing-thru: Part 2 – The Landscape’s Languages and Lines;
Becoming a wing-thru: Part 3 – Fences and Memoryscapes;
Becoming a wing-thru: Part 4 – Sound Sounds and Keeping the Quiet;
Becoming a wing-thru: Part 5 – The Art of Endurance;
Becoming a wing-thru: Part 6 – Finding Self & Avoiding Wastage;
Becoming a wing-thru: Part 7 – Finding the Right Words/Terms.

I’ve also had various acceptances brightening the next few months ahead:

‘Hidden histories’ and ‘Worcester’s Second-hand Store’ (poems) for Nine Muses Poetry (April 2);
‘At White Lake’ (flash) for Spelk (April 3);
‘About Halving’ (flash), and ‘Yin & Yang’ and ‘Keeping Guard’ (photos) for Door is a Jar with ‘Keeping Guard’ also selected as the cover art, issue 14, Spring 2020 (April);
‘The Rising Sun’ (poems) for The Poetry Village (April 30)
‘Sudden’ and ‘Not Mercury’ (poems) in Unpsychology, issue 6;
‘Through Our Letterbox’ (poem) in Caduceus 102;
‘At breaking point’ (poem), which won second prize in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine 2018, is to be included in an anthology of the main prizewinning poems from the first ten years of the Hippocrates Prize. The launch for this takes place at Medical Society of London (11 Chandos St, London, W1G 9EB, nearest tube Oxford Circus) on 25 March from 6-8pm.
Entry cost: £10 including a copy of the anthology and a glass of wine. Tickets (while they last) are available on EventBrite:;
‘The Nook and the Knack’ and ‘Our Time’ (poems) for the Good Dadhood journal;
‘Writing Life’ and ‘More than snapshots’ (poems) and ‘In hollowed oak’ (an ink drawing and photo combination artwork) for Irisi Magazine‘s hope issue later this spring.

So that’s my recent out and about in person, online and on paper, and hoping that 2020 will bring more of all three!


frozenandartsg1200A few years ago, I was delighted to be commissioned to write a poem for the Still Born project, responding to beautiful and moving artwork by Adinda van ’t Klooster (see the image above), who is now running a Crowdfunder campaign to help support a touring exhibition. Pledges to the campaign come with various rewards, including a high quality PDF or a high quality A4 print on lightfast paper version of the poem. The campaign can be found here:


Meanwhile, indoors is and always has been made for reading, and I’m delighted to endorse The Significance of A Dress (Arachne Press) by Emma Lee. A very short snippet of my thoughts about this collection can be found below. You can find a sample poem, more information and order this collection from Arachne Press here.The Significance of A Dress pic

Nothing is unimportant in The Significance of A Dress, where next year is not the future but a question. Each refugee, suffragette or shushed voice and narrative encompassed by the poems is personal and individual, yet simultaneously universal in its reach and significance. In ‘Dismantling The Jungle’, flames form “an echo of a former life”. This vivid collection is full of such flames and echoes. Whether it’s “Each dress hangs from a noose” (‘Bridal Dresses in Beirut’) or “Everything Abdel sees is smeared, despite his glasses” (Stories from The Jungle), Emma Lee’s focus is precise, poised and packs emotional punch. Her evocative imagery is reinforced by taut lines, striking juxtapositions and intimate, moving details. The Significance of A Dress is a beautiful, powerful and haunting collection.


I’m very very delighted to be able to share the news that I’m judging this year’s Hastings Litfest flash fiction competition. The deadline is early June. Full details about the competition and how to enter can be found here. Please do follow the instructions carefully, particularly making sure your entry is anonymous. I’m very much looking forward to reading the entries.


I’m pleased to have been a very small part of the Redditch Borough Poem – a community-written poem that will be launched on Friday 20 March, 2020, 19:30-21:30 in the Palace Theatre Studio in Redditch. The event will be presented by former Birmingham poet laureate Spoz and Tom McCann as part of a ‘Licensed to Rhyme Take Over’. As well as poems from the two presenters and a participatory performance of the Redditch Poem, there’ll be an open mic, giving writers the chance to share their work in a warm and welcoming setting. Tickets are just £5 and can be booked via the Palace website or over the phone at 01527 65203. (NB Before making plans, please do double that any events mentioned on this blog and my website generally are still as mentioned here.)

Happy Christmas & New Year 2019 to 2020

Advent News

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My life is nothing but ironic, but hopefully in this post’s irony lots of hope, for other writers too. The past few months I’ve had disappointments of various kinds with various writing projects, manuscript proposals and commission bids that have hit harder than usual. But also sudden unexpected joyful surprises at the opposite extreme!

One of these is to find out that my poetry chapbook How to Grow Matches from Against the Grain Poetry Press is a finalist in the poetry category of the Eyelands Book Awards 2019 – it’s a truly international list, and I’m both excited and nervous now ahead of the winners announcement on December 20! Meanwhile – sales pitch warning! – if anyone would like a copy of How to Grow Matches it’s available from the press and also at the Poetry Book Society here.

DSC_1122Another is that I’m absolutely delighted that my poem ‘This Beetle-Thing’ has won second prize in the age 26 and over category in the Lichfield Cathedral Poetry Competition! The winning and shortlisted entries (top 10) from each category are on display at the Cathedral until January in a beautiful walk around A2ish size anthology style display. The cathedral Christmas trees and light display is also well worth a visit, including the beautiful installation below. While I was there, I got a video of myself performing the poem, so this may follow at some point… Meanwhile, congratulations to all the poets and big thanks to judge Michael Symmons Roberts, Lichfield Cathedral, Lichfield Poetry Festival, competition organisers and all involved in this wonderful poetry competition, display and event!





In other news, I had one poem, ‘Nanny Prosser’, shortlisted and highly commended, and another poem,’My Still Life’, shortlisted in the Living Well Poetry Competition, – both published in the Living Well Poetry pamphlet.

The past few weeks I’ve also been enjoying contributor copies of various anthologies with some of my poems or flash in:

Pressed Flowers (‘Speaking with Flowers’ and ‘Pressed Beauty’, poems) – available from Black Pear Press here;
Ripening Cherries (‘The last red phone box’, poem) – available from Offa’s Press
The Poetry of Worcestershire (‘No Still Life’ and ‘Salt of the Earth’, poems) – available from Offa’s Press;
Flash Fiction Festival Three (‘Summer Joyrides’, flash) – available from AdHoc Fiction here;
Ellipsis Zine, Six: 2119 (‘In the Days of Automata’, flash) – available from Ellipsis here.

I’ve also had various online publications:

‘Eel, frog and butterfly’ (flash) published on Ellipsis here;
‘Survival’ (flash) published on Spelk here;
‘the glass impressionist’ (poem) in London Grip here (or a printable version here);
‘Remembering Eggshells’ (poem) on Atrium here;
5 pieces of art from my sequence ‘chambers of the heart’ – open-hearted; heartache; ghost traces; hole-hearted; crow-heart surgery – in Bonnie’s Crew here.

I’m delighted to have three photos (‘dreamscape lake’, ‘puddles of blue’ & ‘walking off water’ or ‘beached’) published in Highland Park Poetry’s The Muses’ Gallery 2019 Fall/2020 Winter.

This month sees my last work as The High Window Resident Artist 2019. My last installment of artwork features some thoughts on the possibilities of photo/photo-poem ‘haibun’, some hand-drawn images and a poem-sketch/drawing animated gif, as well as editor David Cooke’s announcement of the journal’s next resident artist. You can read all this here.

The latest issue of The High Window also has my review of Jane Lovell’s stunning pamphlet This Tilting Earth (Seren, 2019). You can read my review here.


Just a quick reminder that I’m judging this year’s Against the Grain Poetry Press poetry competition – DEADLINE END OF THIS MONTH (Dec 2019). You can check out the rules and enter here.

My Against The Grain Poetry Press chapbook How to Grow Matches is available from the press here, the Poetry Book Society, or drop me an email on if you’d like a signed copy posting out.

My life has never been very still, much though I enjoy brief moments of peace when I meditate. The past few months, like the past few years and much of my life has been filled with both low points and highlights. I’m going to focus on the highlights because the disappointments have already had more of time and energy than I’d like! Plus I also have lots of gratitude and thanks to the editors, festival and event organisers who have made all the fabulous things below happen!!!

October started with the National Poetry Day launch of the Poetry on Loan poetry postcards, including my poem ‘And counting…’ The picture below features some of the poetry postcard poems on display in poster-form at Hereford Library for the launch reading.

Poetry on Loan pom postcards 2019 DSC110

My next publication excitement was ‘Stopping for a Coffee on Drury Lane at Dusk’ (poem) published in Domestic Cherry 7. The launch was at The Big Poetry Weekend, Swindon – big thanks to Hilda Sheehan and all for a fun, characterful and memorable evening! I also had a festival reading and publishing panel event. All three were great fun, as was the whole of my time at the festival. The atmosphere and setting (at Richard Jeffries Museum) were magical, friendly and warming. I also got to meet, hear, chat with and pick up pamphlets from some amazing poets, including Julia Webb, Olivia Tuck, Fiona Benson, Michelle Diaz, Alison Brackenbury, Claire Crowther (my fellow reader and panelist) and more! Hats off to all involved, especially Carrie Etter and Helen Dewberry. I’d really recommend these poets and the festival – I came back feeling re-energised and inspired!

20191026_191823 Sarah at Gloucester Poetry Festival 2019

On the festival front, I was really pleased to be a Guest Poet with David Ashbee, Sharon Larkin, Roger Turner and Derek Dohrenat for The Gloucester Poetry Festival’s Echoes event this weekend. My family on my father’s side hail from the Gloucestershire-Wales border and Forest of Dean areas, so it was great to read some of my Gloucestershire poems. The evening was wonderfully wide-ranging and I’ve come home with some fabulous books to read. Big thanks to Ziggy Dicks and all involved in organising the event and festival. (The festival runs until this Thursday, so do check out The Gloucestershire Poetry Society on Facebook for more events!)

I’m also delighted to have had a haibun ‘The last red phone box’ published in Ripening Cherries (Offa’s Press) and my poem ‘The First Secret’ published in Confessions, an anonymous prize anthology judged and edited by Worcestershire Poet Laureate Charley Barnes. I’ve a short poetry sequence ‘Speaking with flowers’ and ‘Pressed Beauty’ forthcoming in the Black Pear Press Pressed Flowers anthology commissioned by Charley Barnes and Polly Stretton. This is being launched at one of my favourite poetry venues, Park’s Cafe in Droitwich, on Wednesday, November 13 – 6.30pm for a 7pm start. I’m looking forward both to reading and catching up with friends I’ve not seen in a while – do join us if you can!

I’ve also have a poem ‘the glass impressionist’ accepted for the next issue of London Grip New Poetry, in December.

On the art and photography front, I was delighted to find my photo ‘Knowledge Decay’ was in the Top Five of the Borderlines Carlisle Book Festival photography competition 2019 for images with a theme of change. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it up to Carlisle in person to see it on display in Tullie House, but the festival team kindly took a picture for me.

Bordelines book festival top 5 photo credit Borderlines Carlisle Book Festival - Copy

Seasonal Adjustment Order‘ (flash fiction) published on Words for the Wild in September.

The Dream Dresser‘ (flash fiction) published on Literally Stories in September.

I’ve also had my micro ‘In the Days of Automata’ accepted for Ellipsis Zine 6: 2119, which is due out soon. Meanwhile, I’m really happy and grateful to have another micro fiction, ‘Summer Joyrides’, taken for the next Flash Fiction Festival anthology.

While I’m writing about this, I also have to give a shout to Kathy Fish for her fabulous fast flash fiction course. I’ve literally just finished this and found the ten day online couse simultaneously challenging, intensive and totally AMAZING!!! To put this in a more concrete context – I’ve more flash fiction drafts from this course than I’d normally manage in 6 months to a year! (The next step for me, of course, is revising, redrafting and then submitting some of the pieces. But I’ve already had one micro-fiction started on the course, ‘A Cacophony of Lovers’, accepted for Bending Genres issue 12, out in December.)

This leads me into another piece of news. I love running V. Press but it inevitably takes a lot of my time and energy, meaning my personal output, submissions and publications often takes second place to press demands. I do need to create myself though, and in particular to write and find new creative challenges, in order to rebuild the energy needed to do everything else. I’m not just an editor or publisher, and one of the things that I’ve realised over the past year in particular is that I do need to be able to make and maintain some kind of space for me as a writer. As part of this, I will be taking a month away from V. Press at the end of next year, for a residency by the Baltic Sea in Latvia. Although that’s still a while off, I’m excited already – and knowing I have that lined up is also revitalising in itself!


I will be judging this year’s Against The Grain Poetry Press poetry competition. You can check out the rules and enter here. (And my Against The Grain Poetry Press chapbook How to Grow Matches is available from the press here. Or drop me an email on if you’d like a signed copy posting out.)

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