Matchsticks, Mums…& More!

March 11, 2018 sarahjameswrites

Happy Mother’s Day to all mums and children – of whatever age!

March, Mother’s Day and my writing life – given the feminist slants to my new poetry pamphlet How to Grow Matches published by Against The Grain Press later this month, it feels a good day to talk about some of the inspiration and background to the collection.

How to Grow Matches front coverThe title poem ‘How to Grow Matches’ was first published by Magma for their revolution-themed issue in June 2016. As with the rest of the poems, it’s about the expectations society can place on women. But the pamphlet also touches on potential female role models and ideals, women in myth/storytelling, and aspects of women’s lives, influence and prejudice faced as mothers, daughters and mistresses. This is not to mention all the advice women can get given…

That’s a very rough and generalised summing up of the pamphlet. What I really want to do here now is pay tribute to my mum – a wonderful woman who’s always inspired me (as has my dad too!). She is one of the main driving forces behind the pamphlet, along with my grandmothers and all the generations of women before me who have had so much to fight against in terms of women’s rights and the kind of lives open to them. Alongside this too, my concerns for future generations. The writing was also focussed by an awareness of my individual responsibility within this for shaping the world and society.

How to Grow Matches back cover



How to Grow Matches London launch 2

One thing I’ve already been very touched by is the generous response of those who’ve read the pamphlet, including the wonderful cover endorsements from Luke Kennard and Gill McEvoy.

How to Grow Matches is available to pre-order now from the Against The Grain Press shop here! I’m also absolutely delighted to have the full line-up for the London launch – below. It’s great to be able to read with such fabulous female writers!!! Against The Grain Press have also set up an events page on Facebook here.



On the subject of peace…this is from the Nottingham Peacebuilders anthology Small Acts of Kindness. It’s lovely to think of the postcardsand poems circulating like smiles at Nottingham Castle for this 2018 event.

Reminiscing on #lightnight2018 One installation at @nottinghamcastle asked participants to hang messages for peace. They were also giving out these postcards of poetry! Here’s one from @s.a.leavesley 💡 . . #nottinghamcastle #lightnight #poetry #literature

A post shared by Nottingham City Of Literature (@nottmcityoflit) on


Nature and environmental concern are also of growing importance in my writing and I’m delighted to have ‘A Planet Where’ published on the beautiful and important Words for the Wild (February 2018).

Also, ‘Our Street’ published in London Grip, spring 2018.

And ‘The Nowhere Shed’ published in The High Window – a place of loneliness, yes, but also nature, recuperation and the rain’s mantra.

I’m very pleased to have an article and poem set for publication in the April issue (issue 12, April 5) of Breathe. ‘Tea, Poetry and Peace’ covers mindfulness, inspiration and the potential healing powers of poetry, along with a short poem from me written specially for Breathe. I love this magazine, so it’s a real pleasure to have a piece in this issue. Magazine subscriptions are available on the website, but individual copies can also be found in various shops. Locally to me in Droitwich, I think this includes WHSmith, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, and other petrol stations and newsagent outlets.


There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes at V. Press recently, so lots to come over the next few weeks. Meantime, I’ve just set our submission window dates for this year. Advance notice and more about these can be found here.


Saturday, 31 March – Poetry Cafe, London – Launch of How to Grow Matches (Against The Grain Press)

Sarah will be reading from How to Grow Matches – a pamphlet inspired by strong women, the search for and conflicting female role models and the pressures women face in modern society. With guest readers: Linda Black, Joolz Sparkes and Hilaire.

6.30pm for a 7pm start at Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX.

Saturday, 19 May – Park’s Cafe, Droitwich – How to Grow Matches – A Live Lit Celebration

A launch that’s more like a celebration – for How to Grow Matches (poetry) LINK IN, hopefully Always Another Twist (novella) and spoken word, strong women and fabulous writers generally. More details on this to be revealed in April – featuring guest poets, an open mic with prizes and more!

Time & venue: 7-9.30pm, Park’s Cafe, 4 Victoria Square, Droitwich WR9 8DS

Saturday, 28 April – Mantle Lane Press Spring Showcase at Birmingham Literature Festival Spring 2018

Based in Coalville, Mantle Lane Press is the publishing arm of Mantle Arts, specialising in fiction and factual historical books, usually with a Midlands connection. As part of this Spring Showcase event, editor Matthew Pegg will introduce us to Mantle Lane’s new and upcoming publications including The Music Maker by Liz Kershaw and Always Another Twist by Sarah Leavesley. We will hear extracts from seven Mantle Lane writers – Sue Barsby, Jennifer McLean, Liz Kershaw, Mary Williams, Nick Fogg, Sarah Leavesley and Tim Franks.

Venue: The DOOR, Birmingham REP
Tickets: £6 / £4.80 (concs)
Information and tickets here

Sunday, 22 July 2018 – V. Press showcase at this year’s Flash Fiction Festival at Trinity College, Bristol

For more information and to book tickets for the weekend-long festival, please visit the website here.

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.


Whether it’s reading or writing, I love words. I also chatting poetry, sharing my work and talking to other readers and writers. So do drop me an email (lifeislikeacherrytreeAT yeahooDOT com), if you’d like me to come along and talk literature, discuss writing or share my work. And likewise written interviews, blogposts on aspects of reading,writing and publishing. Or podcasts, or film, or anything I’ve not even thought of!


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