So this is a post about good news: the good news of good news, but also the good news of bad news. I don’t talk about the latter as much as the former, but I do get both. Ironically, the bad news tends to register more with me than the good, which is a pity. The silver innards of that cloud though is that it’s a good reminder to be grateful for the good news!

So the past few weeks’ shimmers of glittering light include lovely words in a review of Kaleidoscope, poem acceptances for Amaryllis and Atrium. News that my Poetry Wales poem will be in the autumn issue and that my poem ‘Sleeping Beauty’ will be in the Three Drops from a Cauldron: Lughnasadh 2017 best of print anthology.

My gratitude and thanks to these journals and their hard-working editors.

Last night I had a fabulous evening at Poetry Extravaganza organised by Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis for Droitwich Arts Festival. It was a cracking night. Lovely poetry, lovely venue, lovely atmosphere, and great to catch up with friends I’d not seen in a while. I left feeling very thankful to all involved poets, audience, MC Fergus McGonigal and organiser Nina Lewis – I’ve organised similar arts festival events in the past, so I know there’s no small amount of work involved!

I also got home to a wonderful email that I’m sure I’ll be blogging more about soon – but it’s another big gratitude and thanks.

Of course, so far this post is just a fraction of the thanks and gratitude owed in a very specific area. When I get a chance to stop and look at life (mine and others’) more generally, there are so many people and things to be grateful about. Yes, we live in a world where everyone’s under pressure and life can be massively unfair. There are those who will use others for their own ends, without caring about the damage they cause. But that makes all those who are genuine and working for others all the more important. I won’t name specific people – the list would be too long and they quite possibly might not like it anyway! – but my gratitude and thanks for all those is immense.

Moving back then to ‘working’ life writing gratitudes, my thanks also to reviewer Charley Barnes for her considered review of Kaleidoscope.

Review

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“Kaleidoscope is the pocket-sized sucker-punch penned by Sarah Leavesley…

“Leavesley wields the tool of an unreliable narrator with confidence and, given the psychologically fragmented tone that she is striving for, this unreliability and ambiguity is employed to good effect throughout the work.

“​One thing that I can say without running the risk of spoilers, is that this book is beautifully written. With a background in poetry, Leavesley weaves touching descriptions into her everyday prose here and it makes for a hard-hitting read – in the best way. It really adds something to the delivery to see elements of a different writing style incorporated so smoothly throughout…

“A troubling but beautiful read, Kaleidoscope is difficult look at a struggling mind, but it certainly makes for wonderful reading.”

Charley Barnes, Mad Hatter Reviews
(The full review can be enjoyed here, and an interview with me about the novella and writing here.)

Other – non-writing – gratitudes: my younger son’s beautiful leavers’ assembly (I didn’t cry, well, not really), the freshness of the swimming pool on a hot day, golden hour sunlight while cycling, getting back to the bouldering/climbing wall (if still not as often as I’d like), apple juice and diet tonic with frozen strawberry ice cubes, seeing not one but two live badgers (my first time), little gifts of time when I can read just for pleasure and catching up with family and friends after a busy busy few months!

This is not to mention the lovely time I had at Ledbury Poetry Festival, and then Birmingham Waterstones earlier this month talking to Birmingham Poetry Stanza about V. Press, publishing and our fabulous authors’ books. (A big thank you to Ledbury Poetry Festival, Steven Fowler, Roz Goddard, Waterstones, Brum Stanza and David Calcutt for very enjoyable evenings.)

And I’m already massively looking forward to being back at the Birmingham bookstore later in the year for another intriguingly/enticingly themed (I hope, as I love it when theming brainwaves strike) live reading:

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An Unconventional History of Maidenhood, Mothering and MistressesWaterstones, Birmingham – Thursday 5th October 19:30 – 21:00

Katy Wareham Morris will be performing poetry from her collaborative pamphlet with Ruth Stacey, Inheritance. Ruth Stacey will be sharing poems from her collaborative pamphlet with Katy Wareham Morris, Inheritance, and her collection, Queen, Jewel, Mistress. And Sarah James (aka Sarah Leavesley) will be reading from her poetry collection, Plenty-Fish, and from her brand new novella, Kaleidoscope.

There will also be a book signing. Waterstones address: 24-26 High St, Birmingham B4 7SL.

 

And More!

The three poetryfilms created for my Disappear Here Coventry ring road collaborative commission with filmmaker Ben Cook can now be enjoyed here. A brief synopsis of the films can be found below. My main role was writing the poems and script for the poetryfilm. But there are some of my photos in the first part of the film, possibly including the odd selfie…

Ellipses is a three-part poetry-film inspired by Coventry ring road. It draws on the city’s past as well as the stories of those now living in the city and using the road.
Part 1) ‘Underbelly Undercurrents’ features Coventry ringroad and the River Sherbourne, which ‘slithers’ through the city, mostly hidden underground but occasionally surfacing, like the city’s stories. Both poem and visuals tap into the imagery of circles, snakes and ouroboros (a snake swallowing its own tail that is used as a symbol of wholeness or infinity). It is a poem about the flow of traffic, river, time, lives…

Part 2) Time continues as a strong theme through ‘Clocking In/On/Off’. Here, the poetry is dropped into a dialogue featuring a mum, Liz, and her daughter, Kate. Kate is having problems with her boyfriend, Tim, and is harried by the pace of modern society. Can her mum help her or will mum and daughter always be talking at cross-purposes across each other? Poem and storyline are set against a background that includes the history of the ringroad, Coventry’s clockmaking past and World War 2 when Coventry was bombed.

Part 3) The words for the final part are taken mainly from the names of the ringroad junctions and the slightly surreal line “Tickets, please”. Repetition with difference, the sense of a magical mystery tour of Coventry and ghosts of past and future were underlying inspirations for this part. Ben’s visuals pick up on the movement (tracing) of car lights on the ringroad – creating an almost dancelike pattern. The poem’s repeated words slowly transform into a reverbed sound that is choral and ghostly.

The end of the film then circles the viewer back to the beginning…