Archive for October 2018

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


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

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.


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

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

The High Window


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

Review: Bone Antler Stone by Tim Miller


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

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.




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

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

S. A. Leavesley, Spiders, Pools, and Stories: A Flash Fiction Collection


Spiders and Oranges

The crate of clementines was a conundrum for Amy. She hated spiders, cobwebs and dark corners. But she loved oranges.

“Go on!” In her head, she could hear her brother, Tom, urging her to plunge her hand into the box’s shadows. If he were here, he’d trap any spiders with a glass, their legs furiously tapping the invisible sides unable to understand why they couldn’t escape.

Tom wasn’t here. However, Amy did have a big bug-bashing torch. Gripping this tightly, she shone the flashlight down and picked up the smoothest, shiniest clementine. It was perfectly palm-sized and bursting with juice. She started munching.

By the fifth clementine, Amy’s pace had only slightly slowed, she was so hungry for their sweetness. The sixth was slightly misshapen, though still no sign of spiders. Registering the rind’s different texture brought back childhood Christmases: the orange at the bottom of their…

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Add comment October 4, 2018






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