COVER HIGH RES JPEGLampshades & Glass Rivers (Loughborough University’s Lamplight Press)

Lampshades & Glass Rivers is Sarah’s winning sequence from the 2015 Overton Poetry Prize.

From the book cover:

Lampshades & Glass Rivers follows a young woman’s love, marriage and attempts to conceive. Ada’s experiences are set against the background of her grandmother’s fleeing from Poland during the war. That suffering is always present, although unvoiced, along with her grandmother’s strength and endurance.

“A ‘red-throated song’ full of rooms containing relationships and rhythms that both comfort and disrupt the reader, as a family gathering might, one where tales are told in muted light, alternately sombre and heroic. These are tales of new life, old life and the edge of life – a heart-full and tender collection.”
Sarah Kelly

“A carefully controlled sequence full of a woman’s half-told stories. There are fragile surfaces of glass and skin, but there is also an energy which finds anagrams and half-rhymes to play with. Twenty moments of experience and memory, rich in striking imagery.”
Kerry Featherstone

WINNER of the 2015 Overton Poetry Prize

Lampshades & Glass Rivers can be bought for £6.50 (with free U.K. postage) using the paypal link below.


Lampshades & Glass Rivers with P&P

The pamphlet is also available directly from Loughborough University by following this link.


Reviewed by Sam Smith in The Journal

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


“Leavesley’s snapshots have a piercing quality: the writing is clever without showing that it knows it…

“Underlying the beat of pain is the flow of potentiality, the possibility of creation even in brokenness, and the joy of beauty in bleak, wrecked things. The stars dance, life dances and while the river runs we have diamonds. This dance saves this little collection from bleakness: there is damaged hope here, but also defiant life. The language is deceptively simple, no parlour tricks. Leavesley likes to punctuate with alliteration but it isn’t hard-pressed or unnecessary. The poems are daintily built, with a fine eye to structure which belies the strength of the result. There are occasional sound games, a particularly delightful ‘sole ah’ reflecting both sound and light. A palindromic protagonist underlines the idea of a break in the flow, the unexpected, and time presses without ever being mentioned by name…

“This is a suggestive collection. The poet, often with a word or the turn of a line, creates situations and events which arrive full-blown and technicoloured in the mind. I admire the the control with which this is achieved. Words which appear easy have been deftly chosen, small details implying vistas of experience. You will finish your reading knowing things and not realising how or why you know them, until you walk line by line through the verse…” Rachel Sterling, Sabotage Reviews, October 2016, full review here.

“…a sparkling example of how pared-down language, carefully controlled rhythm and crafting combined with rich imagery can make poems dazzle.” Emma Lee, London Grip, June 2016, full review here.

“The collection brings together poems in the form of flashes of memories from the past like open rooms filled with shadow; its glass rivers an icy, sharp pain from which growth is born. Leavesley’s latest pamphlet invites the reader to ponder the meeting of past and present in “Babcia’s banned books”, and in another poem, “…her half-sung / offerings: the lost poppies / of a faraway life”…

“Light and darkness, past and present, pain and life are all contrary forces that cannot exist without the other. The poems in “Lampshades & Glass Rivers” subtly illuminate a careful balance and the mutual reciprocity between these dualities…

“In conclusion, “Lampshades & Glass Rivers” is a story of memories, personal growth through pain and a woman’s perspective on family, birth and love. It is a well-balanced collection of poems filled with deep reflections on the dualities of living. Each read of the book brings new insights; it is tender, affirming and rich in its telling of twenty tiny glimpses into past lives and possible futures, born not from escape, but rather an acceptance of all that has been and is.”

Jack Little, The Lake, May 2016 – full review with detailed commentary and quotes here.

“Reminiscent of a delicate fairy tale… There is so much to love in these dreamlike scenes, as they intricately weave Ada’s experiences with those of her grandmother forced to flee Poland during the war, quiet sufferings that hover at the edges as if to keep Ada’s company…

“There are several dominant themes in this collection – glass, fragility, rivers and loss juxtaposed with strength, endurance and woman as nature, with the lampshade battling light to prevent revelation. In one scene Ada is leaving a hotel, with ‘each room, the size of her mind’ and where ‘each guest’s wake / trembles in a sealess wave’ across the lobby’s lights, a dazzling description literally and then in another, she contemplates ‘that all water / is a form of strained cloud.’”

J.V. Birch, full review here

“This is a moving and hopeful volume. Strands of imagery run through the book to subtly chart journeys and experiences; there are images of flowers, rivers, glass, knitting and lampshades.

“In Ada’s life we have the lampshades catching her sighs and casting shadows into haloes. The shades give presence to absent people and past times as well as watching what goes on…

“I particularly loved these lines and images – ‘all water/ is a form of strained cloud’ and ‘Memory stalls on how to say goodbye/to a place that is her first walking moment,/ whose minerals strengthen her bones’. They are magic and I will be processing them for some time to come…

“I enjoyed this sequence of poems and they repay rereading. I want to turn the words over like stones whose tops are dry and whose underbellies have been transformed by trapped water.”

Sonia Jarema, goodreads

“The glass rivers are made of wild dreams, blood, wine, and music, a tender and reassuring rhythm…” Agnes Marton, 5-star review on goodreads