So, this week sees the Cheltenham Poetry Festival launch of my collaborative poetry pamphlet with Angela Topping, Hearth.

It was fabulous to find out last week that one of the pamphlet’s completely collaborative poems (as opposed to paired poems) ‘Crow Lines’ was highly commended in the poetry festival’s Compound competition for collaborative poems.

From the back cover: “In Hearth, prize-winning poets Sarah James and Angela Topping join forces for an exciting sequence of paired poems which echo and interrogate each other, finding shared ground and surprising connections.

“Home, memory and commonality are explored through objects that often surround our living spaces, our hearths, our hearts. Opening and closing with collaborative poems, the poets’ two voices come together, part and come together again.

“From old fires that ‘spark and flame’ to ‘the heart of a secret’ and ‘silenced tongues’, the sequence picks out the people, places and things that shape our lives. The
dialect of everyday jostles alongside the influences of Shakespeare, Ted Hughes’ Crow and Mrs Beeton. There are shared words, music and dancing, but beware also of the sharp sting of pins, ‘shadow wolves’ and falling.”

I am now massively looking forward to our Cheltenham Poetry Festival reading this Sunday (April 26) with Angela at 11am at Cheltenham Playhouse. We will also be taking part in a Q and A discussion with our publisher Teika Bellamy (Mother’s Milk Books) around the nature of collaboration and making time for writing in busy family lives.

Other joys for me this week have been receiving copy of the beautiful, glossy Shearsman magazine including two of my poems, ‘Purple’ and ‘A Peacock’s Eye’. I have also been reading the stunning The Lampeter Review magice realism theme issue, in which I am delighted to have my poem ‘That Christmas’.

Other good post/email this week (yes, there has been bad, there is always some bad!) includes an acceptance for two poems ‘Bowl of Oranges: A Still Life’ and ‘Heterochromia iridum’ in Agenda: one for the summer’s print issue and another for the online supplement. And I’ve had proofs for my poem ‘That Night’ in the Crystal Voices: Ten Years of Crystal Clear Creators anthology and for ‘An Everyday Geography’ in the latest issue of Butcher’s Dog, which is launched on Saturday, 9 May at 8pm at Live Theatre, Broad Chare, Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3DQ. (Tickets are £6, which includes a free copy of the canny mag.)

After months and months of work and organisation by Satellite Collective, a massive arts project in which I have played a very small part went live this weekend. TELEPHONE: An International Arts Experiment, Presented by the Satellite Collective, involved one starting message being passed on to artists, writers, sculptor and filmmakers across the world. Their ‘version/translation’ of the message was then interpreted by different artists, writer, sculptor, filmmaker and so on and so on. All those taking part had was the immediately preceding art form, with no knowledge even of whom it was by. The resulting network of responses/versions/translations is amazing and it has been really fascinating to follow the links backwards and forwards along the various threads to see how it was interpreted. My small part with my poem ‘Not Letting Go’ can be seen in the photo. This poem is also in The Magnetic Diaries.

Since finishing my poetry MA, I have been trying to get back to other forms of writing – from flash fiction, to my novella, to the play version of The Magnetic Diaries. With the election coming up, I was delighted to have a light-hearted-but-with-an-edge faux-article/opinion-piece/essay, Hear, Hear: A History of Shouting without the Histrionics , published on Annexe magazine, with an audio recording of it as well as the print version.

I fear this post may have been shouting a little poetry me, me, me, though, of course, that me is always very firmly part of and shaped by the whole poetry community around me. However, Mental Health Awareness Week is fast approaching (May 11-17), as are the elections. So, over the next few weeks, I hope to be doing a rare political blog and also introducing the With You In Mind poetry project and online anthology by blogging a little about why I feel it’s important to mark this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.