Sarah James

the possibilities of poetry…

Reflections/poem biography for Raindrop on a Red Leaf

P1050378 raindrop on red leaf smaller“His hand cupping a spider, wrist trembling;
a thin branch in the wind,”

The main story behind my plenty-fish poem ‘Raindrop on a Red Leaf’ starts with a photo of such a raindrop on a leaf. I took this picture on a walk across a local park in September 2011.

But this 10-line poem has an unwritten epilogue that starts much further back in time. This pre-poem story has two angles. The first is the literary influence of Jacques Prévert, whose work first got me hooked on poetry. (This influence also features more explicitly in my plenty-fish poem ‘The je ne sais quoi of it’.) That Prévert was a screenwriter as well as a poet can be seen in his poems’ imagery.

The second influence is part-literary – the “What is this life if, full of care, |We have no time to stand and stare?” of William Henry Davies’ ‘Leisure’, and William Blake’s “To see a World in a Grain of Sand…” (‘Auguries of Innocence’). But it is also part-mindfulness and the notion of living in the moment as a way of dealing with, or reacting against, the otherwise generally fast pace of modern society. Writing the poem, I set out to capture snapshots of some of those moments in life that cause an inner gasp and leave a lasting mark in the memory.

The resulting poem was one of three chosen, along with corresponding spectrogram (sound wave-forms) art that I created from their lines, to be displayed on Worcestershire buses as a Worcestershire Arts Partnership/CBS Outdoors/First Capital Connect commission in June-Aug 2013.

The poem, based on emotionally moving moments, and physically moving when on the buses, also has another element of movement. It is one of a few poems in plenty-fish where lines move, or shape-shift, according to their medium.

‘Raindrop on a Red Leaf’ concludes with a couplet circling back to the title image metaphorically. On the page, in the collection, the final line is: “on the wet leaves of two tongues.” But, read aloud without the words on the page visible, “tongues” is easily misheard as “tongs” or “tonnes”. Fortunately, the poem is free verse and not welded to a fixed metre. So, in readings, I often add an extra two-syllable word right at the end, to help clarify on the sound front and also make explicit what lies between the lines of the page version: “on the wet leaves of two tongues, kissing.”


Electric Questions - lit version smallerDiscussion Points

1) How closely does the central image in each couplet link to the other couplet’s images/moments? Does the poem leave enough space for the reader to make their own connections?

2) What relationship does the title ‘Raindrop on a Red Leaf’ have with the poem’s contents? Is a connection between the two clear when you first start reading? If not, when does some linking/interpretation become possible? And does it take on new meaning(s) by the end of the poem?

Inspiration/Writing Prompt

Imagine a photo album of five important snapshots from your/a fictional character’s life. Can you use these to create a narrative, or a bigger snapshot of your/their personality? Try to use either the final image or the title alone to hint at the most important snapshot or a way of reading all these snapshots.

plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.

CHARITY LIVE LIT & LAUNCHES

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Forget the royal wedding or football on May 19, I was pleased to celebrate live lit and raise funds for St Paul’s Hostel, while launching my latest novella Always Another Twist and poetry pamphlet How to Grow Matches.

The night started with Sylv Coultier reading a Spanish translation of the pamphlet opening poem Matryoshka Portrait. This was followed by an intermingling of poems and a novella extract from me, as well as poems from fabulous guest poets Holly Magill and Jenny Hope, and Liz Kershaw reading from her newly launched novella The Music Maker.

Charley Barnes MCed the evening, while Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis judged the prize open mic section, with a most majestic poem prize awarded by Paul at Park’s Cafe. I have to admit that I didn’t tell Nina I thought she might have the hardest job of the night…and she did! The open mic was amazing with stunning sets from everyone, including some the talented creative group at St Paul’s Hostel. It was an amazing, amazing night – and a big thank you to everyone who came along and made it so!!!

(from left to right) Charley Barnes, Nina Lewis, Jenny Hope, Liz Kershaw, Holly Magill.

(from left to right) Charley Barnes, Nina Lewis, Jenny Hope, Liz Kershaw, Holly Magill.

REVIEWING

Over the past few weeks I’m delighted to have reviewed:

losing interest in the sound of petrichor by Kate Garrett over on Riggwelter;

Yuki Means Happiness by Alison Jean Lester over on Goodreads;

The Music Maker by Liz Kershaw over on Amazon.

ALWAYS ANOTHER TWIST – audio & reviews

Extract 2: ‘He called, Julie smiles, the gorgeous guy from the library called her…’

Extract 3: ‘“It can’t be!” Julie closes her eyes, then looks again at the pregnancy strip. A blue line. She shakes the white plastic, the line is still there…’

 
Review:

ALWAYS ANOTHER TWIST-Final“…Initially chapters follow the nursery rhyme “Ten Green Bottles” with each chapter presenting a new break, a new problem for Julie to solve. Some are simple: you lose a job, find another. Others more complex…The bottles start increasing when Julie discovers her pregnancy, implying what is broken can be rebuilt, but a rebuilt bottle carries its fault line…

“At the heart of the story is how we allow the views of others to distort the view we have of ourselves. This can be positive when we question decisions and check we’re on the right path. However, it can be negative when we prioritise how our decisions affect others and change them based on unchecked information which may be false.

“Julie is easy to sympathise with: the independent sister prepared to take responsibility and do the right thing, even at personal cost…”

Emma Lee, full review here.

HIPPOCRATES PRIZE

I was delighted to hear that my poem ‘At breaking point’ has won Second Prize in the 2018 FPM Hippocrates Open awards for Poetry and Medicine (generously supported by the UK medical society the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine).

My poem ‘Postpartum’ was also commended in the competition and both poems published in the The 2018 Hippocrates Prize Anthology. The anthology can be purchased here, more on the anthology poets and poems here, and the prize announcement here.

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V PRESS SABOTEUR NEWS

Lots of fabulous news from the Saboteur Awards this year – check out my V. Press blogpost with all the great V. Press related news here.

OTHER PUBLICATIONS

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I’m delighted to have:

The Life of a Fish published in The Dark Horse issue 39 in May 2018;
 
And the words disappear and Skimming Petals published in A Tale of Two Cities Special Edition Contour WPL Magazine Issue 3. (The poems are part of a twin city project linking poets in Worcestershire, UK, with poets from Worcester, massacusetts, USA. I was delighted to work with Susan Roney-O’Brien, with my poem ‘And the words disappear’ inspiring her ‘We loose our thoughts into the space between us, then wait’, and her ‘Landscape’ inspiring my ‘Skimming Petals’;
 
From The Heart’s Diary (poetry sequence) accepted for publication on Bonnie’s Crew on June 16;
 
The Grape-Face (flash) accepted for publication on Spelk on July 13;
 
From Wild Sargasso Seas accepted for Guillemot Press‘s #eel suitcase anthology. (I’m particularly pleased about this because the poem feels the closest I’ve ever come to being able to incorporate experimental elements with a more mainstream style poem in a way that hopefully allows each to also work independently, so that those readers who only enjoy one of these approaches can enjoy the poem without the other more experimental/mainstream elements distracting or interfering with that enjoyment.)

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NEW EVENTS

advert-collab-finalgrad2Thursday, June 28, University of Wolverhampton Artsfest – An Unconventional History of Maidenhood, Mothering and Mistresses

When: 28 June 2018 – 28 June 2018, 7.30pm

At: Tilstone, Arena Theatre, Wulfruna Street, Wolverhampton,West Midlands, WV1 1SE

Writers Katy Wareham Morris, Ruth Stacey and Sarah James draw on history, literature and art for their poems and narratives about women’s roles and experience in society – now and in the past.

Tickets: FREE – reserve your place at www.wlv.ac.uk/artsfest

Booking link: https://www.wlv.ac.uk/about-us/our-schools-and-institutes/faculty-of-arts/artsfest/registration-form/

Monday, August 20 – Tales Between the Ales night at The Two Towers Brewery, Birmingham

AT: The Two Towers Brewery, 29 Shadwell Street Birmingham B4 6HB

TIME: 7 -9.30pm.

I will be reading at this night of themed poetry (and fiction) celebrating all things to do with the summer: myths, legends, folklore, mischief, magic, and/or personal remembrances etc, with a twist on the subject of summer. Other readers include Colin Ward, Stephen Maguire and Ray Bradnock.

Eventbrite link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/tales-between-the-ales-tickets-46115874823
Facebook link https://www.facebook.com/events/173541293344629??ti=ia

Friday, 12 October 2018 – Evesham Festival of Words Meet the Authors event with Sarah James, Alex Lee Davis and Richard Vaughan Davies

AT: Evesham Library

TIME: 11am-12.30pm

The Evesham Festival of Words event includes talk, readings and Q&A is open to the general public.

Reflections/poem biography for The Philosopher’s Magnum Opus
Magnum opus smaller
“Strangely, no real effort is required,
only time, and the sea’s tidal wisdom.”

Alchemy is a mysterious, ancient philosophical and protoscientific tradition to draw upon. It was also the prompt for this poem, written specifically for the art and poetry anthology Drifting Down the Lane.

In alchemy, the magnum opus is a term for the transformational process of changing raw materials into the philosopher’s stone or the efforts to discover this stone. The philosopher’s stone itself is a legendary alchemical substance capable of turning base metals into gold.

Translated as ‘the great work’, magnum opus has also been applied metaphorically to artists’ greatest achievements. The philosopher’s stone too has many other metaphorical meanings and values, including symbolising perfection and enlightenment.

But perhaps true pearls of wisdom don’t require so much effort. Maybe awareness of our effects on others and using words with care is the real philosopher’s stone.

Electric Questions - lit version smallerDiscussion Point

How well do the conversational snippets fit into this poem? Do you think this is helped or made harder by the poem’s rhythm and couplet structure?

Inspiration/Writing Prompt

Where might you/a fictional character find a modern-day philosopher’s stone? What would you/they use it to transform and why? What unexpected effects might this have?

plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.

Reflections/poem biography for Looking Back In Fragments

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“The echo of his whispers       fills your mind with snow;
a blizzard of thoughts                        swirled
to red-edged numbness.”

Now one of the most experimental pieces in the collection, this was once just a straightforward, mainstream, free-verse poem combining landscape and lost love, based in part on the photos on the photos below. As such, there were many lines and images that I was attached to, but nothing to lift it above this.

Breaking the poem into different fragments made it far more interesting for me. By combining it with the footnote poem, ‘not(e) a poetics of glass/water’, both pieces took on more layers, and became a fragmented narrative with plenty of space, I hope, for the reader’s imagination to wonder and play.

Reflections/poem biography for not(e) a poetics of glass/water

looking back

“6. As water trickles through rock.”

Form-wise, this was influenced by reading the footnote poems in Kristina Marie Darling’s Petrarchan. Originally, my main page was blank above the footnote lines, until I realised that I could add more depth and layers by attaching it to a relevant different poem.

Word play, myth and slights of thought loosely based around water and glass came together to create the somewhat disjointed contents. The resultant piece is close to being an ars poetica or treatise of a poet’s practice and intentions. The observations and ideas contained in the footnotes are meant to have some relevance of their own, to reflect and refract the linked poem and to shed some slanted light on other poems in the collection.

The thoughts are not just about art or living life as an artist though, they are also about human nature more generally. We all have habits, for example. When these work well, they can be a thing of ease, efficiency and speed. But sometimes they can be a short-cut to cliché, damaging thoughts/behaviour and a rut that’s hard to escape.

Some things in life are clear and easy to understand logically, others less so. But where there is no clear semantic or scientific meaning, there may still be understanding through the senses and emotions. Or vice versa, when things have a logical clarity that is at odds with emotional or instinctive responses.

flashes2
Electric Questions - lit version smaller
Discussion Point

What are your underlying beliefs as reader and/or writer about what a good poem should be or do?

Inspiration/Writing Prompt

Choose a theme that appeals to you. Try writing a poem/story for this theme that deliberately omits great chunks of narrative/detail that you would normally include. Consider using a numbered list or bullet points to do this. (Rather than starting from scratch, another way to approach this might be to apply the technique to a draft version of an unfinished poem/story.)

plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.

Reflections/poem biography for Bewitching

“The porch collects birch twigs, cats
and a spellbinding past…”
Night lines 2smaller“the giant stride of our electric men,
their wired arms flying heat and light
into these cold, dark landscapes.”

Another not strictly autobiographical poem, ‘Bewitching’ was inspired by staying with family in the grounds of Muncaster Castle at Halloween. The crucifix lodge is real but the specific details of cats and mushrooms added to strengthen the poem’s overall thrust.

For me, this is a poem not about magic but perspective. There is the way that unfamiliar countryside traditions might seem strange to outsiders, to the point of herbal cures being labelled magic or sorcery. By contrast, isn’t electricity, which we all take now as an everyday fact, just as magical in its own way? And what about all the phenomena that science and logic still can’t explain?

More about electricity as inspiration and imagery can be found in my Wellcome Collection commisioned feature Creative Energy: how electromagnetic therapy inspired me.

flashes2Electric Questions - lit version smallerDiscussion Point

How necessary is the footnote in this poem? What are the potential benefits and disadvantages of footnotes in general? When would or wouldn’t you use them?

Inspiration/Writing Prompt

1) What does your/a fictional character’s porch collect? Are there any secrets hidden in the dark corners, beneath the roof tiles or behind cobwebs?

2) Choose a modern invention that has become so much of your/a fictional character’s everyday that you/they take it for granted. What happens if this lost? And if it had never been invented at all? How would life change? How do you/they adapt? What might be invented instead?

plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.

Reflections/poem biography for The Hummingbird Case

hummingbirdsmaller“This case shimmers with lives
spun from sun, textured
with oceans, forests, skies…”

This poem was inspired by an exhibit at the Natural History Museum in London. I was torn between awe at how beautiful these birds are and horror at them being killed and stuffed simply for decoration.
Mostly, we live in a different world now, though it would be a mistake to think that animals aren’t still slaughtered in some areas of world simply for greed and people’s need to own something beautiful.

To do nothing seems wrong, yet it isn’t always easy to know how to change things. Words are my best tool, though these are nothing without people on the ground actively working to make a difference.

Electric Questions - lit version smallerDiscussion Point

This poem was published in a Magma issue considering ‘beauty’. What other abstract qualities does this poem illustrate or make you think about? How and why?

Inspiration/Writing Prompt

Visit a museum – for real or online. Pick an exhibit. Describe it and why you chose it using as many senses as possible. Imagine how it ended up there, the stories it might tell and what wisdoms it might reveal?

plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.

Always Another Twist – Novella News

IMG_1017-003I’m absolutely delighted to blog today with copies of my new novella Always Another Twist on the desk beside me!!!

On Saturday, I read from the novella for the first time for the Birmingham Literature Festival Mantle Lane Press Showcase at Birmingham REP’s The DOOR and the book is officially published/released by Mantle Lane Press tomorrow (April 30) on the website here.

Meanwhile, I’m delighted to share this audio snippet from the start of the novella.

Extract 1: ‘Betrayal always has a name, Julie sees that now. This name as familiar as a best friend’s or partner’s. But, once betrayal has a name..’

 
Another Twist cover
 

How To Grow Matches – News & Reviews

It was great to read from How to Grow Matches again at the V. Press Stablemates in London on Wednesday, as well as plenty-fish (Nine Arches Press).

A poet friend has also done some beautiful Mexican-Spanish translations ahead of next month’s local launch. The translation of ‘Forget Beef, Forget Chicken’ seems particularly apt given the poem’s Spanish omelette and:

“Throw this in the pan’s sizzle.
Let pale cubes of potato fry
in these fiery Spanish juices.”

Copies of the pamphlet are available from Against The Grain Press here.

Reviewing

Recently, I realised that reading for pleasure was losing out to work demands, often falling to the bottom of the priority list when up against deadlines. Although I shouldn’t need permission to read, justifying this time is hopefully going to be a lot as easier now that I’ve joined the reviewing team at Riggwelter.

Other Publication News

My other recent publications include:

‘When It Sleets’ (cli-fi flash) in It Came From Beneath the Waves, a strange sea-tale anthology from Mantle Lane Press, which I also read from at the Birmingham Literature Festival Mantle Lane Press Showcase on Saturday;

My flash fiction ‘Collecting Pylons‘ on Spelk in April 2018;

A cli-fi/sci-fi short fiction ‘The Last Red Cherry‘ on Cabinet of Heed, Science Fiction Special, issue 7 in April 2018.

I’m also really pleased to have had a nature/environmental/writing/reading/workshop/haiku-inspired article ‘Nature Caring and Sharing – #100kindsofhappy’ accepted for publication in the National Association of Writers in Education’s summer or autumn issue of Writing in Education magazine.

Meanwhile, my poem A Planet Where is to be included in the Words for the Wild print anthology due out this summer.

Forthcoming Events

Thursday, 10 May – Worcester SpeakEasy Guest Poet

I’m 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
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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

Reflections/poem biography for Museum Offering
seed fern sarah james smaller

“This fossil alters the shape of my palm.
Flesh moulds to its mineral coldness,”

The simple but beautiful seed fern fossil is a key example of something that puts the smallness of each individual life into perspective. More of it remains, and recorded so beautifully in stone, than is ever likely to be found of me that many millions of years later.

In some ways, this poem also echoes back to ‘Elliptic’. Cold stone set in contrast to warm, loud, continuing current life; the holding of mankind or personal history in the hand as a reminder of the importance of life, and making the most of that life.

Electric Questions - lit version smallerDiscussion Point

This poem is structured in 4-line stanzas with a final concluding couplet (all non-rhyming). Does this change in structure at the end of the poem work? Why? What are the general advantages and pitfalls of a concluding couplet, or a final stanza that is half the length of a poem’s other regular length stanzas?

Inspiration/Writing Prompt

Close your hand to a fist. Now open it. Imagine something is revealed in your palm, be it a physical object, your lifeline, a scar… What inspiration, narrative or insights might this imagined ‘thing’ evoke? How? Why? Where did it come from? And what do you do with it next?

plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.

Reflections/poem biography for through glass
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“That changeling inside her,
its stained-glass feathers clinking…”

This sequence is another third-person narration which is not strictly autobiographical yet is based on my personal experiences with depression.

The chapel in the fourth part is actually the chapter house at Worcester Cathedral, where that section of the poem was written in response to a Worcester Cathedral Poets workshop.

Again in this poem, there is my pull towards water, and purpose.

Discussion Point

Does this poem successfully focus on two things (glass and water) that reappear significantly at various points in the main character’s lifetime?

Inspiration/Writing Prompt

Imagine that instead of living in the world directly, you see and experience everything through something else. This might be water, glass, rose-coloured spectacles, cellophane, mist, a mirror… How does this change you/your experiences?

plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.

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!

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