Archive for February 2018




S.A. Leavesley launches How to Grow Matches, guest readers Linda Black, Joolz Sparkes and Hilaire

Coming up in one month’s time!!!

The Poetry Shed

matchesJoin Against the Grain Press and our fantastic guest readers at the launch of S. A. Leavesley’s pamphlet at The Poetry Café on the 31st March. A  little bit of Easter magic for all!

sarah.jpgS.A. Leavesley (Sarah James) is author of four poetry collections, two pamphlets, a touring poetry-play and two novellas. Her poetry has been published by the Financial Times, the Guardian, The Forward Book of Poetry 2016, on Worcestershire buses and in the Blackpool Illuminations. She runs V. Press poetry and flash fiction imprint was Overton Poetry Prize winner in 2015.

lindaLinda Black is an award-winning poet, a visual artist and a dyslexia specialist. Her pamphlet The beating of wings (Hearing Eye, 2006) was a PBS Pamphlet Choice. Her fourth collection, Slant, was published by Shearsman in April 2016.

Picture1.pngHilaire’s poetry and short stories have been published in both British and Australian magazines and anthologies. Her novel Hearts on Ice was published…

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Add comment February 28, 2018

Write/Delight/Excite – & London launch

How to Grow Matches London launch 1

How to Grow Matches London launch 2

HOW TO GROW MATCHES & ALWAYS ANOTHER TWIST

I’m very excited that my poetry pamphlet How to Grow Matches with Against The Grain Press went to the printers this past week. I’ve just had a flyer from the Against The Grain Press editors for the launch event they’re organising at the Poetry Cafe on March 31. More details on this to be revealed shortly, but the immediate where and when and sample poem in the flyer below.

I’ll also be setting up a website page here for the pamphlet, including the lovely endorsements from Luke Kennard and Gill McEvoy, and will be organising my own local launch event later in the year. Meantime, the pamphlet is available to pre-order from Against The Grain Press shop here!!!

And my sequel novella to Kaleidoscope, Always Another Twist (Mantle Lane Press), is near proof stage now and I hope to have more news on that to share soon too…

POETRY NEWS

‘when it rains…’ specially commended in the Oriel Davies Gallery Open Writing Competition 2017.

‘All the women left’ (a poem from my forthcoming pamphlet How to Grow Matches) published on Atrium in Jan 2018;

Poetryfilm version of ‘Cumulus’ featured on the Cloud Appreciation Society website.

Publication of ‘Unhexing’, which was commissioned for the Still Born project and written in response to artist Adinda van ’t Klooster’s stunning artwork ‘Frozen’. The poem is one of eight commissioned for Adinda van t’ Klooster’s new book Still Born, which combines a personal selection of her artwork alongside responses by eight poets, her own narrative, and text by stillbirth specialist and obstetrician Alexander Heazell of Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Centre at the University of Manchester. (The book is launched at Northern Print, Stepney Bank, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2NP on 22 March from 6pm – 8pm. More about this here.)

Two poems due out in A Restricted View From Under the Hedge(Hedgehog Press) ‘Zen and the Art of Cycle Maintenance in Issue #1 (March) and ‘Hedgehog Kind’ in Issue #2 (June).

‘A Planet Where’ accepted for Words for the Wild online.

I’m delighted to have been paired with U.S. poet Susan Roney-O’Brien for a transatlantic project between Worcester, U.K. and Worcester, Massachusetts. The ‘Tale of Two Cities’ project organised by Worcestershire poet laureate Nina Lewis involved sending each other a poem and then writing a response to the other’s emailed poem. Poems from the project are to be featured in a Contour Magazine special edition in April 2018.

Eight poems scheduled for a six-poet Arachne Press anthology in September 2018.

FICTION NEWS

I’m delighted to have fiction published/forthcoming at:

‘Mistletoe & Marriage’ on Flash Fiction Magazine in Feb 2018.

‘No False Pretences’ (flash) on Fictive Dream in Feb 2018.

SarahP1010159boost 4 in a circle hrizontal with middle pylons too scaled down & more transparent in middle

 
‘Collecting Pylons’ (flash) scheduled for Spelk on April 20.

‘The Last Red Cherry’ (short fiction cli-fi) accepted for Cabinet of Heed (sci-fi issue).

Five pieces of short/flash fiction scheduled for an Arachne Press fiction anthology by five writers in September 2018;

EVENTS

Wednesday, 17 October 2018 – guest poet at Poetry Cafe Refreshed, Cheltenham

The evening at Smokey Joe’s, 16 Bennington St, Cheltenham, GL50 4ED runs 7pm – 9pm, and also includes open mic slots.

I have various other events coming up on the flash fiction and poetry fronts, as well as launches for my Against The Grain Press pamphlet How to Grow Matches and my new novella Always Another Twist (Mantle Lane Press). So, watch this space as they say…

Meantime, if anyone’s interested in the three-poet festival reading ‘An Unconventional History of Maidenhood, Mothering and Mistresses’, more information about the reading and booking us for a festival spoken word night or bookshop reading can be found here: An Unconventional History of Maidenhood, Mothering & Mistresses – Marketing Pack 2018.

OTHER GREAT NEWS

At the end of last year, I was delighted to be asked by Roz Goddard to write an endorsement for her wonderful pamphlet ‘Spill’ out now with Flarestack Poets.

It was great to hear Roz read from this at the recent Verve Poetry Festival in Birmingham as part of Jane Commane’s fabulous launch for her collection Assembly Lines. Two stunning poetry titles that I’d thoroughly recommend!

February 25, 2018

No False Pretences 

Not really sure what I’m doing when I ‘Press This’. But that admission’s somewhat apt when it comes to this story, so hopefully this links to said story.

“The figures never lie. Nor do Dora’s tweets, though she might tweak, twist, turn details slightly to show her…” This flash actually started as CNF but then it took on a life of its own – a bit like social media profiles can do…

via No False Pretences 

Add comment February 21, 2018

Wednesday Reflections/Meditation on/with/for a Buzz

Reflections/poem biography for Meditation on/with/for a Buzz
Meditation on with for 3 smaller

“That winter I hang with the bees
above hibernation and frost.”

For me, this poem is about the almost impossible task of concentrating solely on the senses. With every sound, smell, taste, sensation, sooner or later thoughts follow.

The types of meditation I have tried either concentrate on the senses or on repeating a mantra as a focus. When the thoughts come, I try to just observe them and let them go, but this letting go can only happen once I become aware that I am already in the grip of thoughts or imagination…by which stage I might be half-way to the moon, planning the weekly shop or worrying about bills.

Outside of meditation itself, come thoughts about thoughts, these thoughts framed in language. Separating experience from language is hard, even when focussing directly and with as much concentration as possible on the senses. Set against this, the irony that if I examine any word closely enough, it falls to pieces in some way.

I don’t want to even try to paraphrase the work of linguists like Ferdinand de Saussure, simply ask how alike is the word ‘apple’ to things we experience as an ‘apple’? The word itself has no taste, no colour…yet hear someone use the word and I’m able to tap into memories of a certain tang and texture on my tongue. At very least, I have some concept of what they are talking about. Or I think I have. But what is the precise essence of appleness in all the different varieties – Cox, Pippin, Pink Lady – that we might use the word ‘apple’ for?

Thoughts and questions could chase each other round and round for days. Language is a representation, not the actual thing. There is always an arbitrary element to it. Or, as Shakespeare put it in the often paraphrased lines from Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose | By any other name would smell as sweet.”

As for the buzz, well, meditation can bring me a great feeling of inner peace, light and clarity. But, by tuning into the senses and things around me, I can also come away from meditation feeling suddenly more awake and alert – almost buzzing, though not in quite such an overly energetic or noisy way.

Electric Questions - lit version smallerDiscussion Points

1) How easy is it to follow precisely what this poem is describing? Does any potential confusion help to actively demonstrate the arbitrariness of words?

2) If you read this aloud – feeling the sounds in your mouth and on the tongue, as well as the ear – do any of the words start to feel like physical objects in their own right rather than merely noise/symbols in a system (if language)? How and in what way?

Inspiration/Writing Prompt

Focus first on an object. Then focus on the word that you’d use for that object. Try saying the word aloud, again and again and again. Does the word change the more you say it? What, if any, actual direct similarities are there between the object and the word for that object? Imagine this word was the word for an entirely different object – perhaps that feels more suited/similar in some way to the word. What kind of journey/nightmare/experiment/transformation would be needed to turn the first object into this second object? Is there a poem or story in these observations? Or in the possible reasons behind attempting such a change? (For an example of an existing fictional transformation, consider the pumpkin that becomes Cinderella’s coach.)

plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.

February 21, 2018

Wednesday Reflections/Some Prayer

Reflections/poem biography for Some Prayer

Every Small Grain smaller

“Forget gravity, forget north –
this force is in all directions.”

With depression, I’ve found that there are many cruel months, many hard days. But focussing on the senses and paying attention to the small, very real details of life can help. This kind of mindfulness tends to work best for me when applied to observing things in nature. Even in its changing seasons, there is something constant and reassuring about how the natural world continues no matter what.

The notion of osmosis here ties back into viewing the world as one whole made of many (moving) parts, including me. Also the sense of going with the flow, ‘que sera sera’ (whatever will be, will be). For me, there is a sense of ease in accepting the small part that personal pain plays in a much bigger picture. Most things have silver linings or work out in some way in the end, so long as I allow myself to see the good as well as the bad.

One of the things I try to remember with writing is that the joy is in creation and crafting. Whenever I get a rejection, a piece doesn’t work out as well as I thought, or I feel low about the publicity and promotion side of things (not an introvert’s favourite part of writing for publication), I can dwell on it and feel bad. (This happens and I do feel rubbish.) Or I can throw myself back into writing – either editing the rejected piece to create something even stronger or working on a completely new and different idea.

Publication, performance and prizes can give a much-needed outside perspective. This is particularly valuable to me in an anonymous setting where my work stands on its own right, separated from me, uninfluenced by networking or friendships. But, at the same time, even these are perspectives. One of the hardest things for me on my creative masters course was accepting that there really is no hard and fast this-is-good/bad line. Reaction to art isn’t a science, there is no ph. test. But this subjective aspect of creative appreciation also creates space for a great range.

Art involves an implied relationship or communication between creator and viewer/audience, so there would be no point at all in writing for publication if I wasn’t interested in connecting. But, as an introvert, a lot of the paraphernalia that surrounds publication tends to take energy. It is returning to creation itself, the writing, the crafting that gives me pep. I’ve come to realise that balancing these two differing aspects, along with life’s other energy demands, is very important for me.

Electric Questions - lit version smallerDiscussion Point

What emotions and sensations does this poem evoke? Which particular words invite an emotional response rather that just giving a basic relatively factual description?

Inspiration/Writing Prompt

What everyday activities or objects have a prayerlike quality for you? Where do you/an imaginary character derive energy and inspiration? These might be things that are part of your own daily routine, rituals you’ve observed in others or an imaginary character’s habits. What happens if something interrupts or changes these?

plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.

February 14, 2018

Wednesday Reflections/Transplanted

Reflections/poem biography for Transplanted
transplantedsmaller

“From these ‘ghost’ chambers
hollowed into pig and rat hearts,”

‘Transplanted’ was inspired by a newspaper article about scientists researching how to grow human hearts from stem cells. Or, at least, I think that’s what they were doing. It was a few years ago and I can’t remember the precise article, or be sure that I ever fully understood the experiments, even in a simplified news story.

I am very much in awe of science’s miracles, for the most part without question. Like it or not, as a diabetic, I am only alive today because of past medical research and invention. But human history does seem to have a structure whereby solving a problem creates a different one to be faced later. Perhaps this is inevitable, and is fine as long as there is always another solution. I do believe it’s important though to think out what we’re doing as fully as we can before unleashing a new miracle that may potentially create a new problem. When I follow this kind of line of thought, I have a tendency to link back to faith/lack of faith and the idea of the tree of knowledge.

Like the animal hearts, this poem was very much hollowed out from its original drafts until it found this relatively spare, repetition-with-a-difference structure. I hope that the ‘cruelly’ of the final line will also put readers in mind of the opening line to T.S Eliot’s The Waste Land: “April is the cruellest month…”

Electric Questions - lit version smallerDiscussion Point

What do the italicised repetition with a difference lines bring to this poem?

Inspiration/Writing Prompt

Imagine you are a scientist growing something in a petri dish. What are you growing and why? How do you look after and protect it? What sacrifices might be needed to ensure its survival? What risks are involved for you? And for the wider world?

plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.

February 7, 2018

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