plenty-fish with award cover croppedplenty-fish (Nine Arches Press)
ISBN: 978-0-9931201-2-1
Price £9.99

This can be purchased directly from Nine Arches Press (where there may be special offers available for those buying several Nine Arches Press collections), or from Sarah, using the paypal link below.

From the end of November 2015, the book version also comes with free audio reading of the whole collection. When buying from Nine Arches Press, customers can click on their receipt which pops up after they purchase, and download the mp3s as two files. (If buying from Sarah, she can email a link to the email address given through paypal.)


Limited copies on Amazon here or direct from Sarah using the paypal link below.

plenty-fish (including P&P)


“Sarah James’ precise and astonishing poetry invites us to taste and touch the flavours, shapes, memory and experiences for ourselves, the tang of sea-salt tempering the irresistible physicality of these adventurous poems.

Here, the natural and emotional worlds merge in kaleidoscopic colours and all around us, nature runs riot. Humans are organisms in an ever-growing, changing and vanishing habitat; the family an ecosystem complicated by love, loss and letting go. The poems gather and swirl about you, a shoal of brilliant, electric moments. The water may be deep and clear, but the undertow is strong and dark, and sharp enough to cut to the bone.”

“Sarah James’s plenty-fish is an exciting collection with much to surprise and delight. Sarah James has a keen eye for the startling image and memorable metaphor, together with an obvious delight in language and a real sense of how poems feel in the mouth. Each poem is allowed to find its own form, its own space on the page and every line is given its own weight. Reading it from start to finish, I am left with a feeling of the whole collection celebrating ‘the slipperiness of life’ while never forgetting about ‘death’s strong stench’ (from ‘Past Sacrificial’).” – Angela France

“I found the poems in this collection fresh, startling, and at times pleasingly unsettling and disturbing. They aren’t poems to comfort but to question and probe. In other words, they’re poems doing the proper job of waking you up, making you feel more alert to the world, to its brightness, its cruelty, its beauty. Sarah James has a sure and assured voice, the true poet’s eye for detail which she evokes with an unswerving clarity through well-crafted and precise imagery.” – David Calcutt

“Sarah James’s poems bring the natural world to the page in all its sticky, colourful, goose-pimpled and prickly reality, tingling with precisely observed images. With a photographer’s eye, and all her senses finely attuned, she writes with great honesty of the intimate joys and sadnesses of family life, the body’s frailties, and of the losses and gains that come with love and vulnerability. She identifies sacred moments in the everyday and ephemeral; at the flushing away of fairground goldfish, ‘My son demands a prayer.’ These poems are both grounded in a luscious physicality, and boldly metaphysical, touching on the numinous.” – Catherine Smith


“Plenty-Fish Sarah James
Full of piercing and original imagery, Sarah James’s Plenty-Fish shows a mature and erudite poet, unafraid to explore a variety of poetic forms and fascinated by the elusive quality of words. There are cross references to popular culture, science and literature here, which give a wonderfully rich texture to James’s poems. In addition she demonstrates the wonderful ability to take risks and the courage to tackle painful as well as joyous personal experiences.” International Rubery Book Award 2016

Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile – a weekly blog post series of biographies for every poem in plenty-fish along with reader/writer discussion points and writing prompts.

Plenty-fish Reviews

In David Caddy’s ‘Afterword’, Tears in the Fence 65:


“Sarah James’ Plenty-fish cannot be gulped in one go, slipping as it does magnificently around in the imagination, never quite solidly poetry, but fleshy and fresh. The seventy-one-piece collection contains poems of varying lengths – all semi-anecdotal and detailed accounts of everyday life. As a graduate in Modern Languages, James’ sense of poetic form is playful in its use of French phrases, literary quotations and punctuation marks; it is acutely aware of its own sounds and intonations. Her verse elaborates on anything from holding hands to watching TV…

Many of the poems in the collection voice a woman’s perspective with clarity and honesty. James writes with a vulnerability similar to the one we hear in Carol Ann Duffy…” Zoe Cassells, DURA (Dundee University Review of the Arts). Full review here.

“this entire book is really quite beautiful” and “I will say that I greedily ingested this book in one sitting alone, which is surely a glowing review in itself. Plenty-fish is a stunning and emotional collection that really does share something special with the reader, and it’s certainly worth picking up a copy.” Charley Barnes at Mad Hatter Reviews (Full review here.)

“a talent for the unexpected: a love of the natural world that often acts as a metaphor or foil for the deepest emotions”
“Her poems are fresh, images vivid and sometimes startling – even uncomfortable (deliberately so, I would guess). I could not help recalling Eliot’s ‘Whispers of Immortality’: ‘Webster was much possessed by death / And saw the skull beneath the skin.’ Take, for example, ‘I bite down on the memory’: ‘…my back-to-front body filled with worms; / because of this heart of barbed wolf bone…’”
John Alcock in The Cannon’s Mouth, issue 57

Three Videopoems

Sample Poems

Cactus Ballgown

This dress should be kept for those prickly occasions
when you sense dryness, and wish to make a point.

Take care. Such sun-sanded satin is not easily
removed once you grow into its green sheen.

Do not plan on letting anyone close.
They will only get hurt. These flowers are not

for picking. Instead, strengthen your spine,
prepare for the pain of being justly deserted.

Above all, beware of the needles when you un-
dress alone, your skin riddled now with pins.

For Her, A Different Skin

                    Given the right blade, he might slit her.
Not for fox pelt sleekness, or rabbit warmth.

                     Hang legs from a rafter, limbs parted.
Not for the lush flush of raw pain.

                    Unseam a red circle; cut deeper.
Not for a bitter scream’s squeezed juice.

                    Slice the underside, finger it from bone.
For the guts’ intricacy untangled.

                    Slide away cartilage, loose from flesh.
For the pulsed butterflies, released.

                    Free intergluing membrane, slowly unsplice.
For the cracked almond heart, relieved.

                    Glide hand between, peel from carcass.
In hope of finding skin which fits,

                    without snicking any arteries.


It’s his hands, always his hands.

How fingertips skip from the keyboard
to play arpeggios along my arm.

How the pressure of his palm
steadies the small of my back,
so warmth lingers.

How his index finger, which pushes down
on the knife chopping coriander for curry,
traces my thoughts, soothes creases
from letters, gives shape to my lips.

How that chunky ‘c’ of muscle and bone
curls around his pint glass lifting
from full to empty, full to empty,
while his other hand finger-taps
my beer mat till we synchronise rhythms.

How he pulls weeds from the mud,
hands clasped in a firm grasp
around stubborn necks,
or pushes a kiwi-fruit
from its hessian skin –
forceful, but persuasive.

How he snake-coil-palms
a plum stone sticky with juice,
once he’s sucked the flesh clean;
that pincer-flick movement of air
propelling grapes to his tongue;
his thumb-finger grip on a sachet,
that quick pinch open…

how sometimes he uses his mouth.

Losing Faith

Take home a whole shoal from the fair.
Name them Matthew, Mark, maybe John.

Watch how their varnished orange peel
teases through the bubble’s knotted plastic.

Give them a bigger tank to swim in:
a glassed reality of gravel and weeds.

The hide and seek begins. That curving
around stones. The flitting outline of soft bones.

That deceptive width of tails almost thinned
to water’s transparency. Thick smears

on surfaces tinged green by sunlight’s
revelations. Soon their names flake.

After death, you flush away each, past
twitching. Your son demands a prayer.

Sometimes I smile

My year-long series of blogposts about writing plenty-fish with poem biographies for the poems, reader discussion points and writing prompts can be found here.

My year-long series of photo-poetry quotes from the collection can be enjoyed here.