GUARDIAN POEM OF THE WEEK

I’m delighted to start this blog with my big news that’His Secret Daughter’ from How to Grow Matches (Against The Grain Press) was Guardian Poem of the Week on July 30. Carol Rumens’ wonderful, detailed consideration of the poem can be found here. This has been a real poetry highlight for me at a personal level for so many reasons!!!

DOUBLE DELIGHT REVIEW NEWS

I’m really chuffed to also be able to share review news for both my poetry pamphlet How to Grow Matches (Against The Grain Press) and my short novella Always Another Twist (Mantle Lane Press).

How to Grow Matches front coverAlex Josephy’s review of How to Grow Matches for London Grip is so thoughtful, informed and concisely comprehensive that I could easily quote the whole thing. I’ve picked out a few paragraphs below, but please do go enjoy the review (other reviews and poetry) in full on London Grip.

“I admire the sure-footedness of S.A. Leavesley’s writing, her attention to injustices against women, and her delicate use of the imagination to outwit, to ridicule, to leap forward. How to grow matches is an exciting addition to the published work of this accomplished poet.

“In these poems women appear in many different guises – as dolls, as mannequins (with a clever erasure of Plath’s poem ‘The Munich Mannequins’), as matriarchs, and as characters in stories, paintings and a photo-shoot. Their visibility is problematic; Leavesley’s women are conscious of being at times observed too closely, at other times invisible…

“For me, Leavesley has an irresistable way with imagery…

“This is a collection for our times. The pared-back elegance of the poems is as powerful as the writer’s commitment; while staying well clear of preaching, Leavesley conveys both the limitations and humiliations women continue to face, and the many faces of resistance…”

Alex Josephy, London Grip, full review here.

ALWAYS ANOTHER TWIST-Final I’m really delighted to share news of a lovely podcast review of my short novella Always Another Twist (Mantle Lane Press) on Reading in Bed with Andy N & Amanda Steel. It’s hard to pick highlights from any review, especially a podcast, but particular soundbitable snippets include Andy Nicholson’s “A very clever little book” and “It really was a great thing to read, I recommend it completely.”

For the full flavour though, Andy and Amanda’s full discussion and review of this and other ‘reads in bed’ can be heard here, with Always Another Twist in part one (around 3-9 mins through).

My big thanks to Carol Rumens, the Guardian, Alex Josephy, London Grip (and editor Michael Batholomew-Biggs), Andy Nicholson and Amanda Steel for these reviews.

Nature Caring & SharingFEATURES

My Nature Caring & Sharing #100kindsofhappy article published in National Association of Writers in Education magazine, with one of the photo-poems on the cover, July 2018. Article topics include: journalling in the internet age, nature writing, social medial sharing and audience reach.)

Every year has new highs as well as a good share of lows. For me, both are great reminders not to forget life’s overall path as well as the individual twists and curves in the writing journey. This is very much the theme of my article up on the The Literary Consultancy blog this month. Always Another Twist – Journeys, Outlooks & Curves in the Path features some of my personal surprises along the way to becoming a published writer, particularly when it comes to my novellas and poetry-play.

multiple mes3

‘False Eyes & The Myopic of Me’ – this condensed extract from my memoir/essay collection ‘This < > Room’, which was longlisted in the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017 and 2018, published on Riggwelter here.

Timelessness poem for instagram double version smaller

NEW PHOTO-POEM/FLASH JOURNAL

I love new projects, collaboration and creativity. All the more so when I can combine the three together. I’m very excited to have tentatively started a new online photo-poem/flash journal Pic Pocket a Poem. The journal is on social media as LitWorld 2 on instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/litworld2/ and twitter at: https://twitter.com/LitWorld2 @LitWorld2

Information on how to submit short poems/flashes to Pic Pocket a Poem can be found here.

POEMS

‘A Planet Where’ published in the Words for the Wild anthology in July 2018.

‘Heart’ (from my unpublished ‘This < > Room’ longlisted in the New Welsh Writing Awards 2018) published on Ink, Sweat & Tears here.

VINDICATION

I’m also very pleased to have a selection of poems in Vindication – a six-poet anthology from Arachne Press as one of the press’s three #WomenVote100 Anthologies: a showcase for poets Arachne has previously published in anthologies, giving an opportunity to explore their writing in greater depth. Featuring Elinor Brooks, Jill Sharp, Sarah Lawson, Anne Macauley and Adrienne Silcock, as well as myself, these are poems made of myth and family, origins and anger, journeys and home: witty, clever, beautiful and sometimes harsh. Whilst not directly reflecting on the experience of women fighting for the vote, the concerns of women are foremost and are passionately addressed.

Vindication isn’t in shops until September 27, but it is available on the Arachne Press website here now.

MY REVIEWING

My latest review for Riggwelter – Jessica Mookherjee’s Joy Ride – is now online here.

MICROREVIEW

Flambe front coverThe Becoming of Lady Flambé (Indigo Dreams Publishing) by Holly Magill is a gripping poetry pamphlet, infused with an addictive sense of mystery as Magill gradually reveals many things hidden below the surface in this spectacular circus world. Individually striking poems are combined with a background narrative (and characters reappearing in different poems) to create a sum that is greater than its parts. But it’s not just the narrative that makes this a pamphlet that I wanted to read in one go. Both atmosphere and characters are also very beguiling. Magill’s vibrant characters are simultaneously quirky and very empathetically human, while even the humour is accompanied by hints of darkness and/or danger.

The poems are moving and funny, often simultaneously: ‘Avoid reversing elephants’ and ‘Multi-tasking is easy – I can juggle and cry | at the same time, even in the dark’ in ‘Things I learn’ (p.13). Both aspects are given an extra edge by the conversational tone and colloquial language in many of the poems. As reader, I’m brought closer to and made part of this world by a sense of being spoken to as if a confidante, the poems’ truths whispered in my ear like secrets. The monologue nature of some pieces feels like a comfortable or voluntary intimacy – as if the characters are speaking to their own reflection in the mirror or one of the circus animals, perhaps.

I also found the pamphlet a very thought-provoking read. The mesmerising power of flames and the image of a circus tent collapsing are two details that will stay with me. Also, a recognition that of all animals (circus or otherwise) in this world, sometimes humans are the strangest, family maybe even more so. More widely, it also makes me question the prejudgements that society makes, how we value people and how an implicit worth/lack of worth shapes our personalities and the lives we lead.