SARAH LEAVESLEY (pen name SARAH JAMES):
poet, fiction writer, photographer, artist



Sarah Leavesley is a prize-winning journalist, photographer, arts reviewer, short fiction writer and poet, with six published collections. Her first play, The Magnetic Diaries, was staged in 2015 and tours in 2016. The Oxford University modern languages graduate is editor at V. Press, poetry and flash fiction imprint. A member of NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education), Sarah also has years of experience as a festival writer in residence, events organiser and facilitating workshops. She has run Worcestershire Poetry Society Stanza for seven years and been secretary of Droitwich Arts Network, as well as literary adviser. As well as her photography achievements, Sarah has worked in graphic design and poetry film creation.

PUBLICATIONS

Longlisted for the memoir prize in the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017, Sarah’s most recent published book is her short novella, Kaleidoscope (Mantle Lane Press, March 2017). Her poetry books are: Lampshades and Glass Rivers (Loughborough: Lamplight Press, 2016), winner of the Overton Poetry Prize 2015; plenty-fish (Nine Arches Press, 2015) shortlisted in International Rubery Book Award 2016; The Magnetic Diaries (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2015), highly commended in Forward Prizes, play version staged at The Courtyard, Hereford and touring in 2016; Hearth, with Angela Topping (Mother’s Milk Books, 2015), a Poetry Book Society Autumn Pamphlet; Be[yond] (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2013); Into the Yell (Circaidy Gregory Press, 2010), third prize in multi-genre International Rubery Book Awards 2011.

Sarah has been published in Financial Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Rialto, Magma, The Lampeter Review, Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam (Cinnamon Press) and Hallelujah for 50ft Women (Bloodaxe). She has won, been placed or short-listed in a range of poetry and short fiction prizes, including the Overton Poetry Prize 2015, 18 first places and 13 second place/runner-up positions.

Her fiction prizes include winner in the Oxford Today thriller flash fiction competition, third prize in a regional newspaper contest and shortlisted in the Gatehouse Press New Fictions Prize 15/16. Sarah has a 9000-word piece of literary fiction in the Legend Press anthology The Remarkable Everyday, flash fiction in The Ofi Press Literary Magazine, Rockland, Jellyfish Review, The Nottingham Review and Elbow Room (forthcoming) and has had stories published in woman’s magazines: The People’s Friend and Yours Fiction.

PUBLIC POETRY

Sarah’s poetry is on the permanent Polesworth Poets’ Trail in Warwickshire and muralled on a café wall in Droitwich. A poem was animated for the Blackpool Illuminations 2014 and others used for the Northfield Arts Trail and Avoncroft Poetry Trail. Her poems have been displayed on Worcestershire buses and featured around 12,000 copies of AGFA’s annual report distributed internationally. She has also had poems incorporated into calendars, screensavers and set to music.


PERFORMER

A regular guest poet at spoken word events and festivals, Sarah read alongside Bernard O’Donoghue at the 2013 Cheltenham Poetry Festival and was a guest poet in Cork and Limerick in July 2013, after being selected for that year’s Coventry-Cork twin city poets exchange. She performed at Ledbury Poetry Festival 2013 and 2015, Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2013, 2015 and 2016, and read in the Carol Ann Duffy and Friends 2014 series at Manchester’s Royal Exchange. Her poetry has also featured on the BBC, in poetryfilms and on radio.

RESIDENCIES

Sarah has been a festival poet in residence at a church and café, and National Poetry Day writer in residence at Worcester Oxfam Bookshop. Work during these residencies has included creative writing workshops, producing short poems on demand for visitors and writing poems inspired by, and dedicated to, book staff’s experiences. In her role as a wedding ‘love laureate’, she uses a fun women’s magazine style questionnaire to introduce guests to some modern love poetry.

WORKSHOPS

Sarah has experience facilitating workshops in a range of settings including first schools, Droitwich Library, Worcester Cathedral, Worcester Oxfam Bookshop and a church. These have included workshops for literary festivals, mental health charities and Worcester Cathedral Poets and have catered for new and experienced writers, adults, children, homeless people and those suffering from depression, mental health and learning difficulties. Her most current workshop programme is From Pain to Poetry/From Anguish to Art, created as part of an ACE-funded tour of her poetry-play The Magnetic Diaries.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Winner of Droitwich Specsavers Opticians’ Life through a Lens photography contest 2008, Sarah’s past role as a regional journalist involved taking photographs for newspaper use. She also has more creative/artistic photos published in a range of arts journals and for the front cover of her Forward Prize highly commended collection The Magnetic Diaries.

ART & GRAPIC DESIGN

Sarah gained her Graphic Design Specialization with CalArts (California Institute of the Arts) in 2016.

Her spectrogram art (created from lines of poetry) was displayed on Worcestershire buses along with her poems as part of a Worcestershire Arts Partnership/CBS Outdoors/First Capital Connect commission in 2013 and also used for the front cover of Clause in a Noise (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2013).