Sarah James

the possibilities of poetry…

Browsing Posts tagged reading

Question: What do Maid Marion, a River of Stones, tigers and International’s Women’s Day have in common? Answer: Nothing much except me. This said, even as I type, I realise that as a writer with a love of analogy, metaphors and circles, there are probably a 101 other ways of linking them!

But not today. Today is my day of rest after a wonderful, busy week of books and poetry…oh, and dressing up!

I had a fantastic afternoon as Maid Marion sharing books and poetry with some year 3 pupils (age 7-8) at a local first school. As well as talking to them, some of the youngsters from my creative writing workshops shared their poems and stories aloud. I was so proud of them!


I was also proud myself to take part in the Tiger, Tiger launch at Bookmark Bloxwich on World Book Night last night. It was great to listen to a whole pride of talented writers read their tiger-inspired poems, including Born Free poet in residence, Richard Bonfield, and help raise awareness and funds to help protect this endangered species.

The picture below of me and fellow Tiger poets Jenny Hope and Ruth Stacey, also feature a slide of some of the wonderful art that has been produced as part of the project. (So artists and writers interested in supporting this project, check out the website link above!)

Organiser Helen Calcutt is going to be talking about the project in a live transmission on internet spoken word radio site tomorrow night (Monday, March 7 from 8-10pm). They also have pre-recorded versions of me reading my two Tiger, Tiger poems.

Pay attention: a river of stones,in which I have a very small poem/poetry snippet, was also launched this week and is available as a download, paperback or hardback. Meanwhile, I’m also looking forward to reading at Worcester Oxfam Bookshop on Tuesday evening as part of A Bit of A Do to celebrate International Women’s Day.

And now I’ve rounded off the circle of words from the start of my blog, I’ll end with an unanswered question about word association. What is it about mentioning my MA essay in a few of many blog posts that I now keep receiving loads of spam comments trying to advertise websites that will write essays for one? No answers on a postcard, please! 😉

I’ve small stones in my stomach today – looking forward to this evening’s guest poet slot at The Fizz in Polesworth!

If you’re in the Staffordshire area, the evening, which includes an open mic, kicks off at 7.30pm in Polesworth Abbey Refectory. I hope to read a few of my small stones, as well some poems from my collection Into the Yell.

Meanwhile, here’s small stone day 18:

the red wheelbarrow of water ripples
breaks my reflection into patterns of light
stray grass sticks to the side

Polesworth Abbey

Polesworth  Poets Trail Sculpture

It’s been a wonderful week enjoying poetry, the sunshine – and some natural beauty.

I was delighted to hear on Friday that some of my Christmas photos had proved the inspiration for this wonderful poem by Claire Knight. (You can check it out at: )

A walk out on the Clent Hills in today’s sunshine also proved inspirational for me, on both the writing and photography front, as did last week’s excellent Parole Parlate at Little Venice in Worcester.

The next date for this Worcester Literary Festival and Apples and Snakes spoken word evening is Thursday, February 3. Meanwhile, I can’t wait for their next Learn:Eat:Perform workshop and open mic with Francesca Beard at Worcester Arts Workshop on Sunday (January 16). (More details at: and

Following on from reading at Parole Parlate, I’m also looking forward to my guest poet slot at Polesworth’s The Fizz on January 18. The publicity details for the event, which also includes an open mic, are below.

Have a good week everyone!

“The Fizz number 5 will take place on Tuesday 18th January at Polesworth Abbey Refectory

We are pleased to welcome the Worcestershire based poet Sarah James to read from her first collection “Into the Yell” which was published in 2010 by the Circaidy Gregory Press.

Sarah’s imaginative narrative delivered in her distinct poetic voice explores the world from familiar to the fantastic. Her confidently crafted poems excite and engage the reader into her descriptions of the world, often bright, sometimes dark, but always inviting us to examine the theatrical complexity of our daily lives.

Copies of Into the Yell will be available for sale at the Fizz.

Admission is FREE and soft drinks will be available for a small charge.”

Ice Alight

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I’m reading at Parole Parlate in Worcester tonight, where I shall be sharing some of my small stones,  a favourite from Into the Yell and some other new poems. So here’s a sneak preview of small stone day 6, which will be making its debut at Little Venice this evening.

jack frost feathers
the patio table,
combs quills of ice
across the glass

my flash turns
its daylight surface
to ridged night sky
bursting with fireworks

Fizz Bug!

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I have been bugged this week by seasonal ailments – but am now back up and fizzing fit, ready for my trip to Manchester next week for some MA on-campus days.

Not only does MMU have some great workshops, seminars and a reading from Carol Ann Duffy lined up for us, I’m also looking forward to meeting some of my ‘virtual’ classmates in person for the first time.

While I’m up in Manchester, I’ve promised myself a splash in the 50m Olympic pool – I’m inordinately excited about this, as only a swimmer can be! And I’m planning to treat myself to a little Christmas  shopping – fortunately for my husband, my already bulging suitcase should help keep spending under  control.  Though there might just be space for a pair of new shoes 😉 I am now starting to feel a tiny bit festive, so if we also get a light sprinkling of snow this week, so much the better.

Time has definitely borrowed angel’s wings this year as, even writing about Christmas, I still can’t believe it is nearly December already.  It will be 2011 before we know it and I am fizzing this week after receiving the fantastic posters from Malcolm Dewhirst  for my reading in Polesworth Abbey Refectory  on January 18 .

I also have some other exciting projects in the poetry pipeline for next year. But first my trip to Manchester and a 3000-word MA essay assignment to get out of the way 🙁 so that I can truly chill in the warm spirit of Christmas! 🙂


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me behind
the stand

in front of
the mic

those faces

I’ve been re-reading some Ezra Pound and William Charles Williams this week – a week that rather suits the sparseness of the snippet above for more than just this reason.

Although, it’s been busy, it’s been one of those weeks where very little I’ve done particularly stands out. In fact, I’ve mostly been indoors, working for my MA and looking after an ill child. So it was great to get out today for a performance poetry workshop in Worcester run by Niall O’Sullivan. The new monthly event organised by Worcestershire Literature Festival ( Apples and Snakes ( was followed by an open mic – a great chance to try out the new pieces I wrote for the Tiger, Tiger campaign, which were published on the website this week ( ).

There is also a new open mic evening Parole Parlate: The Spoken Word ( in Worcester on Tuesday evening, which I’m looking forward to. And this time, much though I enjoy reading, I am looking forward to just listening and being one of those faces in front of the mic, for once!

Having spent much of the week indoors nursing a cold of the virus kind, it was great to get out on Saturday night to enjoy a different ‘chill’.

Yes, it being Halloween weekend, it was the shivers of spooky tales and poetry – along with some more generally themed pieces for the less ghoulish – at Worcester Arts Workshop’s Word and Sound that helped put me in better ‘spirits’. As well as enjoying a wide range of others’ music and poetry, I also read some of my own gravely and not-so-gravely themed pieces.

Of course, despite dressing for the occasion, my costume didn’t even come close to some of those celebrating Halloween this year!

But Halloween ghouls, beasts, witches and black cats aside, I’ve also been focussing this week on a more important kind of wild animal: the tiger. This big cat is in severe danger of extinction and Tiger Tiger ( is trying to put creativity to good use by asking writers to put their talents to good use by writing about tigers to raise awareness and funds for the World Wildlife Fund Save the Tiger Campaign. This week’s poem by Ruth Stacey ( is well worth reading. And submissions are still open for those who’ve not yet submitted themselves.

And if you need some more writing inspiration, check out my fansite blog post prompt or my train journey people-watching/eavesdropping article in Friday’s Worcester News (

Home Stretch

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National Poetry Day may be over but I’ve been making the theme stretch by enjoying a part-relaxing, part-heavily-MA-laden week at home.

It’s back on the road next week though with a reading at Inkberrow near Redditch on Tuesday lunchtime to prove that this area really is full of talent and variety.

Then on Thursday evening it’s the Birmingham launch of the Bugged anthology at the Ikon Gallery as part of the Birmingham Book Festival. I won’t be reading person this time but the launch will feature other live readings and my poem video version of 7am rising, which is my poem in the anthology.

Meanwhile, if you’re at home, the new Birmingham Book Festival The Loop is now playing on and includes my Helen Bamber Foundation National Poetry Day poem Silent Traffic, as well as lots of other spoken word gems!

Reading poetry has been a big part of my week so I thought I’d bring some of that into my prompt this week. So, if you’re sitting comfortably, pick a letter of the alphabet, any letter of the alphabet…

No cheating, now. You need to pick the letter before you read on to see what I suggest you to with it.

So, if you’ve picked a letter, here’s what I’d like you to do next.

1)      Find a poetic form starting with that letter and try writing in that form yourself. Any subject or theme. (Using an internet search engine may help you.)

2)      If you can’t find a form that begins with this letter – though you might be surprised how many different poetic forms there are out there in the world, with all sorts of names! – try searching for a poet whose name starts with this letter. (Again an internet search engine may help and choosing a poet you’ve never read before may prove more interesting than one whose work you’re already familiar with.) Read some of this poet’s work. One poem is enough but more if you like. Then see if you can find something in the style, theme, subject matter, form etc that inspires you.

Happy writing!

Breaking boundaries has been the theme of the week for me, not least because I’ve been reading and re-reading Frost’s ‘Mending Wall’ as part of my MA!

However, Frost aside, Tuesday saw me crank up my voice for reading at Jacqui Rowe’s Poetry Bites in Birmingham, as guest poet alongside the great Fatima Al Matar and Adele Falconer. I have to say that the evening was inspiring. They are both stunning performance poets. Fatima also has a collection The Heart and the Subsidiary, and I can’t wait to see more of Adele’s work.

It was poetry too in the Thomas Oken Tea Rooms on Friday as part of the Warwick Words festival. Not only was this a lovely relaxed atmosphere to read in – and with an encouragingly large audience – but it was wonderful to spend several hours listening to a wide range of fantastic work by some great poets, including Poetry Bites organiser and recently Poetry Bites/Facebook-crowned Poetry Queen Jacqui Rowe.

Both events are firm proof that poetry written, read and performed is very much alive in the UK regions at the moment! As is the line-up for National Poetry Day (NPD) on Thursday. Details of many of these events can be found on the NPD website at: and I am looking forward myself to going into a local first school in the morning, then sharing poetry and art at the Kate Modern art gallery in stoke Prior in the evening (more details can be found on my news page at ).

The theme for this year’s NPD is ‘home’ and some of my poems exploring different aspects of this ‘spur’ word are set to be broadcast on internet radio station tomorrow night from 8pm to 10pm. The show also includes work from fellow Worcestershire stanza member Jenny Hope and regional Apples and Snakes coordinator Bohdan Piasecki.

Meanwhile, over in my blog on the fansite section of my website, I have been breaking my boundaries by experimenting with something new and will be encouraging other writers to try stepping out of their usual comfort zones and see if they can feel at home somewhere new!

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