After what’s felt long a very long, bleak winter, and despite the recent rain, I’m chuffed to start the spring with several pieces of exciting news. This month I’ve been longlisted in the New Welsh Writing Awards 2018: Aberystwyth University Prize for an Essay Collection and also have a poem shortlisted in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine 2018, with another poem commended.

More about the New Welsh Awards longlist (shortlist announced in May)and my longlisted manuscript This < > Room can be found here. The final winners of the Hippocrates Prize here are announced on May 11, along with an anthology of winning, shortlisted and commended entries!

I was also pleased to discover yesterday that I had a poem shortlisted in the Plough Poetry Prize 2017 short category.

HOW TO GROW MATCHES – REVIEWS & INTERVIEW

Receiving the first issue of The Hedgehog Poetry Press‘s magazine A Restricted View From Under the Hedge brought triple delight – a beautiful parcel of arty poetry goodies, the magazine complete with one of my poems in it and…complete with a fabulous review of How to Grow Matches (Against The Grain Press) and interview with me about by editor Mark Davidson.

How to Grow Matches front cover“From the off, I have to say that I am a big fan of S.A. Leavesley, finding her work consistently brave and challenging in all the right ways, with a forensic ability to turn all of your preconceptions on their head with a single syllable. There are quite literally no throwaway or wasted words in this collection, with every one of them considered and placed precisely to engender exactly the response, emotionally, intellectually, that the author requires.

“This is powerful stuff, but it is Leavesley’s ability to use the form of the pamphlet as part of the work that is particularly impressive.” Mark Davidson, A Restricted View From Under The Hedge.

With Mark’s permission, Against The Grain Press have a copy of the full review and interview over on their website here. Poetryfilms of three poems from the pamphlet can also be enjoyed here. (Obviously, hint-hint, nudge-nudge, you can also buy the pamphlet from the ATG online shop there…)

I’m also very excited to share details of my local launch for How to Grow Matches (Against The Grain Press) and my forthcoming novella Always Another Twist (Mantle Lane Press) with a general live literature celebration in aid of the local charity St Paul’s Hostel, Worcester.

More details about this can be seen below, including details of the fabulous guest readers and open mic comp and poetry judge, but it takes place at Park’s Café in Droitwich on Saturday, May 19 at 7pm. Free entry and everyone welcome!!!

OTHER PUBLICATIONS

Zen and the Art of Cycle Maintenance (poem) published in A Restricted View From Under the Hedge in April 2018;

How wet is wet? Why Rain Matters (CNF essay encompassing poetry, depression, exercise, nature, climate change and environmental work/eco-protection) published on Riggwelter on 11 April 2018;

P1070329I was especially delighted to read this month’s issue (12) of Breathe as it has my article ‘Tea, Poetry and Peace’, a photo-inspired haiku written especially for the magazine and inspirational prompts.

You can order it here. Individual copies can also be found in various shops. Locally to me in Droitwich, I think this includes WHSmith, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, and other petrol stations and newsagent outlets.

EVENTS

Thursday, April 26 – V. PRESS STABLEMATES, The Poetry Cafe, London

Jill Abrams has invited V. Press poets Stephen Daniels and David Clarke , and V. Press editor and poet, Sarah James/Leavesley to share poetry (& maybe a few words on running the press) from their recent pamphlets and collections: Tell Mistakes I Love Them, Scare Stories, plenty-fish and How to Grow Matches.

Doors open 7pm, poetry starts promptly at 7.30. Venue: The Poetry Café, 22 Betterton St, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9BX. Tickets are £6 in advance from Buy Now button on the Stablemates website here or £8 (cash only) on the door.

Stablemates image
Saturday, 28 April, 2018 – Mantle Lane Press Spring Showcase at Birmingham Literature Festival Spring 2018

Based in Coalville, Mantle Lane Press is the publishing arm of Mantle Arts, specialising in fiction and factual historical books, usually with a Midlands connection. As part of this Spring Showcase event, editor Matthew Pegg will introduce us to Mantle Lane’s new and upcoming publications including The Music Maker by Liz Kershaw and Always Another Twist by Sarah Leavesley. We will hear extracts from seven Mantle Lane writers – Sue Barsby, Jennifer McLean, Liz Kershaw, Mary Williams, Nick Fogg, Sarah Leavesley and Tim Franks.

Venue: The DOOR, Birmingham REP
Tickets: £6 / £4.80 (concs)
Information and tickets here

Thursday, 10 May – Worcester SpeakEasy Guest Poet

Sarah is guest poet at May’s Worcester SpeakEasy, the monthly spoken word event of Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe. At Cafe Bliss, Worcester Arts Workshop, 21 Sansome St, Worcester WR1 1UH. 7.30pm start.

Launch 19 May 2018 updated version page 1

Saturday, 19 May, 2018 – Park’s Cafe, Droitwich – How to Grow Matches – A Live Lit Celebration

A launch that’s more like a celebration – for How to Grow Matches (poetry), hopefully Always Another Twist (novella) and spoken word, strong women and fabulous writers generally. More details on this to be revealed in April – featuring guest poets, an open mic with prizes and more!

Time & venue: 7-9.30pm, Park’s Cafe, 4 Victoria Square, Droitwich WR9 8DS

Launch 19 May 2018 updated version - page 2

V. PRESS

This post is already long, so I won’t reduplicate V. Press news here. But simply to say that there has been lots of exciting news for V. Press authors and V. Press poetry designer Ruth Stacey lately. V. Press is also currently open for poetry submissions. More on all these things and more on the V. Press website.

MICRO-REVIEW

Recently, I’ve been enjoying Michael Bartholomew-Biggs’ The Man Who Wasn’t Ever Here (Wayleave Press). I love the quality of the press’s pamphlet production and cover artwork (by Mike Barlow), and I found the pamphlet gripping in terms of character and narrative. My ‘I’ll just dip in’ turned into my completing an initial reading of the whole pamphlet in one go – which for me is a sign of a collection that is way more than a sum of its parts. Both the characters and settings are beguiling vivid – from the striking and moving imagery in the questions at the end of the opening poem (‘Birthright’) with its initial hereditary “quart of blood”, through painfully beautiful poems like ‘“Died From Scalds”’, the dramatic and strange facts juxtaposition in ‘Press Reports’and many other wonderful poems… back round to “that quart of blood again”and Thomas’s Postscripts speaking back at the writer. So much that I enjoyed here and so much that I admired.

My ear (the music of the lines), thoughts and imagination have also been caught recently by Nicholas Murray’s The Museum of Truth (Melos Press). I couldn’t encompass the whole in one short micro-review. But particular personal favourites include ‘Ars Poetica’ – one I can very much identify with though would never manage to phrase it so concisely and strikingly. ‘An Appointment With The Devil’ had me particularly gripped and intrigued, with an intake of breath at the end. The title poem ‘The Museum of Truth’ is sharply beautiful/beautifully sharp. I was also caught by ‘Flood”s cinematic vividness and God – thought-provoking, moving and haunting. It’s a poem – and pamphlet – that I’ll keep returning to!