The High Window Resident Artist: S.A. Leavesley: Photo-poems: Winter 2018

Delighted, excited & very grateful to be The High Window resident artist for 2019!!!

The High Window


Dreams of Flight

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S.A. Leavesley: Photo-poems – visual art and poetry collaboration for a high-tech age

Having previously published some of S.A. Leavsley’s photo poems in a supplementary feature October 23, 2018, we are now pleased to announce that she will be our resident artist for 2019.

Not Watching the Clock – Poetry Pausescombines snapshots from a busy day with haiku-inspired elements of personal observation or reflection. The aim of these pauses is to open up a space of peace or creativity – for me as the photographer-writer and for the reader-viewer experiencing them later. They can be experienced separately, but I’ve also tried to include threads, motifs and links between them so that they also work together as a whole that’s greater than its individual parts.

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Blurred Trace

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Cleared Cloud

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Unfolding 2

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S.A. Leavesley (http://sarah-james.co.uk) is a prize-winning poet, fiction…

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Add comment December 10, 2018 sarahjameswrites

the (un)bearable light(ness) of being – literally & metaphorically

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With the Winter Solstice fast approaching I’ve been stocking up on as much light and outdoor time as I can, squirrelling it into my indoor hibernation hours, along with some seasonal decorations.

In terms of metaphorical, writing, light, I was very delighted to find out that my poem ‘Circles and Sandcastles’ won the POSITIVE IMAGES PEACE FESTIVAL POETRY AWARDS 2018. This year’s theme was ‘safe places’ and it was great to hear the wide variety of poems inspired by this at the awards’ reading and ceremony!

This month, I’ve also had my contributor’s copy of The Creel anthology (Guillemot Press) with my eel-inspired poem ‘From Wild Sargasso Seas’.

My poem ‘Ensemble‘ was the 100th poem on Words for the Wild, my poem ‘Aerial Landscapes‘ was published on Amaryllis and my photo ‘& where, then’ selected for Burning House Press’s Facing Up to the Future issue.

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I’m super pleased to have the poetryfilm of ‘And his open mouth is an olive grove’ (first published in Synaesthesia and included in my pamphlet How to Grow Matches) on Poetry Film Live!!! This also includes some background information on the making of the poetryfilm. You can watch and read it here.

 

Finally (for now!), I’m very chuffed to have a poem selected for Carers UK’s creative writing anthology volume 5, out in December, and a prose poem/poetic flash fiction ‘Like a bird’ accepted for Unbroken Journal next April!

Meanwhile, I’ve been busy editing forthcoming V. Press publications, with 2019 looking set to offer even more titles than V. Press has before!!!

The poems and flashes lined up for LitWorld2 have been bringing me much happiness too. I love finding and pairing a photo with the beautiful words that come in. You can check those published so far online here and watch them revealed weekly for #photofriday on instagram and twitter. (Nina Lewis has also sorted an FB page for them too.) And if you haven’t sent in a submission yet (or want to send me some more), the submission details are here.

MICRO-REVIEWS

I’ve had Aquanauts (Sidekick Books) for a while. It’s one of those anthologies that I find myself picking up and dipping into again and again, each time finding something new or different to explore. The thing about Aquanauts and Sidekick Books’ publications in general is that they’re are all very beautiful, striking and totally unique. For me, this anthology is also a good example of printed poetry as way more than just words on paper; it’s poetry as an experience, an experience that unlike poetry readings/performances can be enjoyed at home (in a more introverted way) without losing any of the ‘live’ atmosphere. In fact, reading this underwater-themed anthology in this way is part of the experience – it’s like having an aquarium in my living room. Both the poems and images inside are beautiful, and varied. The book also invites interaction with prompts and spaces for the reader to add their own words/drawings, actively making them part of the creative process and each individual copy of the anthology even more unique. As it turns out, the pieces in the book are so beautiful that I’m happy just to let them be and watch/feel them be. But the invitation to swim with them is inclusive, and beguiling, like the book itself. I know this is an anthology I’ll dip into again and again!

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How to Wear Grunge (Knives Forks And Spoons Press) might not sound like the material for poetry, but it is, and not just poetry but beautiful poetry. In this pamphlet by Ruth Stacey, grunge most definitely isn’t a fashion statement or adopted look but an all-encompassing way of life. Stacey threads elements of memoir and biography, fiction and ‘fan/groupie’ style research into a beguiling narrative of questions, answers and more questions. This way of life is far from painless; it has its high points – youth, beauty, young love – but also the sharpness of addiction, rape and death. The poems call and echo to each other through use of select repetition, creating a sequence of poems that is incredibly moving, as well as rich with the mystery and appeal that celebrity musicians often generate. There’s humour too, the kind of humour that comes with hindsight and surviving. I’ve mentioned addiction already but How to Wear Grunge is as much about other addictions as it is grunge, alcohol and drugs. The characters here are also hooked on the music and personalities…on words, punctuation, maybe even poetry. How to Wear Grunge is an addictive read.

December 2, 2018 sarahjameswrites

Sarah James/Leavesley: & where, then

BURNING HOUSE PRESS

& where then.jpg

& where, then

Sarah James/Leavesley is a restless/creative chameleon, who loves working across genre and media including poetry, fiction, journalism and photography. She doesn’t believe in much any more, except that the present is our future. Her website is at http://www.sarah-james.co.uk. Sarah tweets here

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Add comment November 22, 2018 sarahjameswrites

Poetry, Publications & Pumpkin Pastels…plus Reviews, Interviews & Writing-Essays

2nd choice = Every Small Grain for social media image 7

The past few weeks it’s become harder and harder to miss that winter is coming – shorter, darker, days, sudden switches from 16 degrees Celsius to 8 degrees Celsius, and, yes, my first cycle ride of the year in full waterproofs!

But although the lack of light tends to send my body and mind towards hibernation mode, it also makes for more time at home, reading and writing, as well as making me appreciate the small burst of sunshine even more!

This at a metaphorical level as well as literal – my publication, events, reviews and reading highlights from the past month or so below.

NEW REVIEWS OF HOW TO GROW MATCHES

P1080021“…each piece finds her opening the floodgates at a precise moment, her delicately controlled releases of anger bringing about effects many miles downstream.

“…Anger often implies and involves the loss of control, but S.A. Leavesley shows that its impact is actually far greater when used with a deft touch. How to Grow Matches is an excellent pamphlet…”

Matthew Stewart, Rogue Strands, full review here

“Vivid and jarring, the 24 poems in this collection delve into the cultural constraints attached to “your office / as a woman.” While many of the pieces focus on a speaker’s growing dissatisfaction with a romantic partnership, other factors—such as family ties and consumer culture—are also probed for the way they influence contemporary women’s self-awareness…

“…although the amusing piece “All the women left” imagines the sudden absence of women at a concert as an emblem for unappreciated female power, these poems in general depict women’s unfinished struggles against unhealthy expectations.”

Jayne Marek, The Lake, the full review, including detailed analysis of some of the poems and themes can be found here

I’m chuffed too to have a new 5-star review of How to Grow Matches (Against The Grain Press) on Amazon from Sue Johnson, where she says:

“Intriguing and compelling – don’t miss this unusual collection!

“I found the poems captivating and intriguing. I read the collection and then went back to the beginning and read it through again. Several of the poems still resonate – particularly ‘Family Trees’, ‘Her cumuli collector’ and ‘Bowl of oranges: a still life.'”

How to Grow Matches is also now on the Poetry Book Society website/available from the PBS shop here.

PUBLICATIONS

I’m absolutely delighted to have a short feature about ‘photo-poems’ including four of my photo-poems showcased in a The High Window Supplementary Feature here.

(A more in-depth 1900-word article on this theme has also been accepted for publication in The Blue Nib in December).

This week has also seen one of my pieces of photographic art, ‘Night Mare Visions’ published by Nitrogen House in their Halloween issue. The full issue can be found here, and Night Mare Visions here.

My article ‘Pairing Poems’ on a Worcestershire UK and Worcester, Massachusetts, transatlantic call-and-response that produced new inspiration and poems was published in Poetry News, autumn issue.

I have a new essay up on Riggwelter, ‘Wardrobes, Fairy Tale Family Trees and the Power of Re-imagining‘, that looks at my writing inspiration in terms of characters. It particularly focuses on the way female characters have featured in literature in the past and how I feel as a woman writer now tackling female character portrayal, settings and relationships. There are also a few links to some character-writing resources.

I’m also delighted to have two poems ‘But’ and ‘The Tything’ accepted for Atrium in December and January – a New Year’s Day publication for my first published piece of 2019!

INTERVIEWS/WRITING LIFE

I’m delighted to have a short blogpost, ‘Elbow Room – contributors speak part two’ up at Elbow Room, celebrating all 20 issues of the journal, its live events and other projects across the past six years.

Recently, I was also interviewed for The Wombwell Rainbow. This can be viewed here and a longer adaptation of this with more links to others’ work to enjoy can also be read here.)

POETRY CAFE REFRESHED, CHELTENHAM

It was wonderful to be guest poet at Poetry Cafe Refreshed, Cheltenham earlier this month – great venue, cracking atmosphere, and lovely poems from everyone – including Sharon Larkin, who runs the event and whose review can be found below.

“A fantastic Poetry Café Refreshed at Smokey Joe’s in Cheltenham last night with guest poet Sarah Leavesley/Sarah James, whose superbly read poems were a masterclass in making every word count and earn its place. We were treated to a rich variety of multilayered poems which spoke (in my interpretation) of disarming dress, listening to the landscape, remaining relevant across generations, net etiquette, art, love, myth, lessons from home and heritage … and, our Brit obsession, the weather. So much depth and so much to enjoy in terms of imagery and wordplay.

“The open mic was of a high standard with super contributions from David Clarke, Jennie Farley, Cliff Yates, Chris Hemingway, Belinda Rimmer, Ross Turner, Gill Wyatt, Michael Newman, Annie Ellis, David Gale, Refreshed’s host Roger Turner (and I read too :-;)”

More about Poetry Café Refreshed, including pictures from the night, can be found on the event blog here, and Sharon’s blog here.

Next month’s Poetry Café Refreshed is with guest poet Pat Edwards on Wednesday, November 21, 2018, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm at Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Bennington Street, Cheltenham.

MY REVIEWS OF OTHERS’ WORK

My fairly detailed review of Tim Miller’s Bone Antler Stone (The High Window Press) is now live at Riggwelter.

MICRO-REVIEW ROUND-UP

The following don’t come close to doing full justice to the pamphlets and collections mentioned, and not just because any summing up can’t replicate actually buying, reading and experiencing the poems directly. However, hopefully these short micro-reviews will give an essence of what’s excited me about these titles.

Suzannah Evans’s Near Future and Roy McFarlane’s The Healing Next Time are very different Nine Arches Press collections yet both full of very striking, powerful and thought-provoking poems about the society we live in and might want or not want to live in looking ahead.

The Healing Next Time‘s poems of witness with a political edge are forcefully moving, making me gasp with emotion but also as a writer in admiration at what Mc Farlane gets the lines to do, their sounds, their details and their shapes on the page.

Meanwhile, Near Future is full of the fizz of humour, language and lively linguistics, including ‘ghuzzles’, ‘applecharge’, ‘writersblox’, the ‘fatberg’, roboblackbird and robobees. As these examples hopefully suggest, the collection is brimming with a wonderful blend of imaginative near-reality and the beauty of what may soon be lost, with the playful edge deepening the darker side of what such a ‘near future’ might actually mean.

Raine Geoghegan’s very atmospheric Hedgehog Poetry Press pamphlet Apple Water: Povel Panni has brought a sense of summer back to the currently mostly grey near-winter days and reminds me of so many things I personally would hate the world to ever lose. The poems are lush and warm with sounds, language and the sense of important family, nature and Romany tradition. There are moving moments and memories presented so vividly that it’s almost as if I’m there in the making of them – tasting the plum pudden, smelling the apples and earth, and discovering the feel of the Romani ‘jib’ words.

The poems in Carrie Etter’s The Weather in Normal (Seren) are powerful compressions, beautifully whittled onto the page, where the white space allows each line to unfold to way more than its literal size and force. Family, place and climate change are all set in even sharper focus by the crafted space between the lines – for thought, emotion, linking – that gives each image, each word choice, each evoked emotion that much greater impact. And that’s without even touching on the narrative arcs across the collection’s three sections giving further depth and meaning!

Sean Magnus Martin’s Flood-Junk (Against The Grain Press) is a mesmerising read, and re-read. Even after several re-readings, it’s hard to put it down and I suspect I’ve still only scratched the surface of the full beauty (and emotional impact) of each poem. This pamphlet is a world of washed-up and damaged things, evoked with vivid and atmospheric imagery. There are striking narratives, dreamlike elements and very human emotions. And for all the sharp edges, the beauty these poems create from damaged nature only cuts deeper as a reminder of what’s being lost, and at risk of even worse loss, in the world around us right now.

Jane Lovell’s Metastatic (Against The Grain Press) is another very different yet absolutely beautiful and moving pamphlet. Wonderful vivid details from nature are set alongside, and give extra edge to, a haunting sense of threat: ghosts, lost paths and landscapes folded away like closed maps. This background narrative of illness, the body’s vulnerability and loss is sharpened both by that contrast and by the way this narrative is implied, rather than directly and explicitly voiced, into and onto everything else. Intensely moving and beautiful poems.

As ever, these micro-reviews are just a sample sample from my recent reads and ‘finds’. Loads of other new titles have joined the bookshelves that I’ve also loved reading but at a time when I’ve not been able to put words together to share that enjoyment.

November 4, 2018 sarahjameswrites

Wardrobes, Fairy Tale Family Trees and the Power of Re-imagining by S.A. Leavesley

Riggwelter

The wardrobe portal to Narnia in C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe isn’t a literary fiction; it really exists inside my head every time I re-read this novel. A similar yet different wardrobe also opens in my mind whenever I sit down to write.
As an author, I’m continuously delving into this closet to find out what might lie hidden at the back and then put on those clothes. (This is both practical and a personal indulgence, as writing allows me to become hundreds of different people far more cheaply than a new haircut or high street shopping spree!) I approach this here as a writer, but actually producing a different ‘me’ for different settings, in different company and playing different roles feels very much part of contemporary life, a modern type of shape-shifting. Like a method actor, I often partly become the characters I’m portraying…

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Add comment October 27, 2018 sarahjameswrites

Matthew Stewart reviews S. A. Leavesley’s How to Grow Matches

Against the Grain Poetry Press

Super review over at Rogue Stands on this exceptionally sunny October day. Do go over and take a look, great title… Opening the floodgates, S.A. Leavesley’s How to Grow Matches.

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Rogue Strands is edited by Matthew Stewart whose collection, The Knives of Villalejo was published by Eyewear Publishing and pamphlets by Happenstance.

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Add comment October 24, 2018 sarahjameswrites

S.A. Leavesley: Photo-poems – Visual Art and Poetry Collaboration for a High-tech Age

The High Window

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S.A. Leavesley: Photo-poems – visual art and poetry collaboration for a high-tech age

Although my working and creative life has mostly been as a writer, I’ve always loved photography. Over the years, I’ve written many ekphrastic poems and, in 2012, I held a combined-medium ‘An Eyeful of Words’ exhibition in the gallery at Droitwich Library as part of my masters in creative writing. This explored the exhibition space as a poetry experience with some elements of public performance (like spoken word) but also aspects of private lone reading from the page. I used the internet to extend this project’s reach through an online gallery, video and other features on my website, including here. But what next in our now increasingly high-tech world?

‘An Eyeful of Words’ had displayed photos and poems alongside each other. Likewise with my three spectrogram art and poem pairings used on Worcestershire buses as…

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Add comment October 23, 2018 sarahjameswrites

Review: Bone Antler Stone by Tim Miller

Riggwelter

Miller, Tim, Bone Antler Stone, High Window Press, 2018. ISBN: 9780-2440-0959-5. £9.99
As the title might suggest, (pre)history and nature feature strongly in Tim Miller’s collection Bone Stone Antler (The High Window Press), but also song, fire, life.

The collection has four sections: Landscapes & Rituals, Burials (which I found particularly moving), Artefacts and Orkney. It also ranges geographically and temporally – across Europe and from 35,000-12,000 BC to AD 200, then present-day walking in Orkney.

While museum artefacts do feature in poems, this isn’t a collection set behind distancing glass. There are cave paintings – as they’re being painted. Similarly, customs and traditions, gods and goddesses, burial sites and bog bodies aren’t just described and dated; they’re brought back to life on the page.

The collection opens with the line ‘All the old stories have their fire houses’ and the three parts of this sequence Fire Houses (featuring destruction…

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Add comment October 20, 2018 sarahjameswrites

Poetry Cafe Refreshed with Guest Poet Sarah Leavesley

Poetry Café Refreshed

IMG_6561 Sarah Leavesley

We had a fantastic Poetry Café Refreshed at Smokey Joe’s in Cheltenham on 17 October,  with guest poet Sarah Leavesley aka Sarah James, whose superbly read poems were a masterclass in making every word count and earn its place. We were treated to a rich variety of multilayered poems which spoke (in my interpretation) of disarming dress, listening to the landscape, remaining relevant across generations, net etiquette, art, love, myth, lessons from home and heritage … and, one of our British obsession, the weather. So much depth and so much to enjoy in terms of imagery, wordplay … and warm humanity.

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The open mic was of a high standard with super contributions from:

David Clarke, Jennie Farley, Cliff Yates, Chris Hemingway, Belinda Rimmer, Ross Turner, Gill Wyatt, Michael Newman, Annie Ellis, David Gale, the host of Refreshed, Roger Turner.  I also read a couple.

IMG_6683 Sarah with Refreshed’s hosts, Sharon…

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Add comment October 18, 2018 sarahjameswrites

Featured Publication – How to Grow Matches by S.A. Leavesley

Our featured publication for October is How to Grow Matches by S.A. Leavesley, published by Against the Grain Poetry Press.

Uncomfortable, powerful, and compelling, these poems demand to be read. And to read
them is to ride a discomfiting turbulent current expressed in images of clocks with disparate rhythms, clouds that dissolve into “dark angels of rain”, piles of spent matches that might make a bonfire. And burning is what these poems do: searing through skilfully controlled anger at the invisibility of women, their lack of a powerful role model to follow, they are ready to burst into flame, urging women to “reclaim their share”.’ Gill McEvoy

‘What immediately strikes me in Leavesley’s poetry is that sense of being spoken to directly, forcefully. The anger – at impossible advice, at the hidden and neglected work, at mere survival against the odds – is always balanced with craft and an…

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Add comment October 7, 2018 sarahjameswrites

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