Archive for December 2019

Advent News

My life is nothing but ironic, but hopefully in this post’s irony lots of hope, for other writers too. The past few months I’ve had disappointments of various kinds with various writing projects, manuscript proposals and commission bids that have hit harder than usual. But also sudden unexpected joyful surprises at the opposite extreme!

One of these is to find out that my poetry chapbook How to Grow Matches from Against the Grain Poetry Press is a finalist in the poetry category of the Eyelands Book Awards 2019 – it’s a truly international list, and I’m both excited and nervous now ahead of the winners announcement on December 20! Meanwhile – sales pitch warning! – if anyone would like a copy of How to Grow Matches it’s available from the press and also at the Poetry Book Society here.

DSC_1122Another is that I’m absolutely delighted that my poem ‘This Beetle-Thing’ has won second prize in the age 26 and over category in the Lichfield Cathedral Poetry Competition! The winning and shortlisted entries (top 10) from each category are on display at the Cathedral until January in a beautiful walk around A2ish size anthology style display. The cathedral Christmas trees and light display is also well worth a visit, including the beautiful installation below. While I was there, I got a video of myself performing the poem, so this may follow at some point… Meanwhile, congratulations to all the poets and big thanks to judge Michael Symmons Roberts, Lichfield Cathedral, Lichfield Poetry Festival, competition organisers and all involved in this wonderful poetry competition, display and event!





In other news, I had one poem, ‘Nanny Prosser’, shortlisted and highly commended, and another poem,’My Still Life’, shortlisted in the Living Well Poetry Competition, – both published in the Living Well Poetry pamphlet.

The past few weeks I’ve also been enjoying contributor copies of various anthologies with some of my poems or flash in:

Pressed Flowers (‘Speaking with Flowers’ and ‘Pressed Beauty’, poems) – available from Black Pear Press here;
Ripening Cherries (‘The last red phone box’, poem) – available from Offa’s Press
The Poetry of Worcestershire (‘No Still Life’ and ‘Salt of the Earth’, poems) – available from Offa’s Press;
Flash Fiction Festival Three (‘Summer Joyrides’, flash) – available from AdHoc Fiction here;
Ellipsis Zine, Six: 2119 (‘In the Days of Automata’, flash) – available from Ellipsis here.

I’ve also had various online publications:

‘Eel, frog and butterfly’ (flash) published on Ellipsis here;
‘Survival’ (flash) published on Spelk here;
‘the glass impressionist’ (poem) in London Grip here (or a printable version here);
‘Remembering Eggshells’ (poem) on Atrium here;
5 pieces of art from my sequence ‘chambers of the heart’ – open-hearted; heartache; ghost traces; hole-hearted; crow-heart surgery – in Bonnie’s Crew here.

I’m delighted to have three photos (‘dreamscape lake’, ‘puddles of blue’ & ‘walking off water’ or ‘beached’) published in Highland Park Poetry’s The Muses’ Gallery 2019 Fall/2020 Winter.

This month sees my last work as The High Window Resident Artist 2019. My last installment of artwork features some thoughts on the possibilities of photo/photo-poem ‘haibun’, some hand-drawn images and a poem-sketch/drawing animated gif, as well as editor David Cooke’s announcement of the journal’s next resident artist. You can read all this here.

The latest issue of The High Window also has my review of Jane Lovell’s stunning pamphlet This Tilting Earth (Seren, 2019). You can read my review here.


Just a quick reminder that I’m judging this year’s Against the Grain Poetry Press poetry competition – DEADLINE END OF THIS MONTH (Dec 2019). You can check out the rules and enter here.

My Against The Grain Poetry Press chapbook How to Grow Matches is available from the press here, the Poetry Book Society, or drop me an email on if you’d like a signed copy posting out.

December 10, 2019



by S.A. Leavesley

The goldfish in Zach’s tank are hungry. Three weeks now since he fed them. Sonia shivers as she touches the cold glass, wishing she could transfer food and warmth. She doesn’t though. He’s forbidden it; he wants to see how long it takes for them to reach desperation, start thrashing and eat each other.

She stares at the smallest one, now floating upside down alone on the surface.

“Useless buggers,” Zach mutters, banging the side so that murk rises from the gravel. The other goldfish dart for the rocks. He strokes her hand.

“Useless,” she echoes, though she isn’t sure goldfish can eat each other; they’re not human. And Zach wouldn’t starve them if they were really gold. She twists her bangle, as she thinks of his koi outside — dollar-patterned, their bellies full and bloated, the pool netted to keep them safe. Their grace is nothing…

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Add comment December 9, 2019

Reviews for Winter 2019

The High Window


Malcolm Carson: The Where And When • Nancy Mattson: Vision on Platform • Carol Coates: The Stories They Told Her Kate Behrens: PenumbraJean Watkins: Precarious Lives  • P.W. Bridgman: A LambPatrick Lodge: Remarkable Occurences Ian Humphreys: ZebraPeadar O’Donoghue:  The Death of Poetry Richard Williams: LandingsPolly Roberts: Grieving with the Animals


Peter Riley: Pennine Tales & Hushings • John Foggin:  Dark WatchersJane Lovell:  This Tilting Earth •  Dennis Tomlinson: Sleepless Nights • Rosie Johnston: Six-Count JiveColin Pink & Daniel Goodwin (artist): The Ventriloquist’s Dummy’s Lament


Korliss Sewer, Fran Lock & Fiona Bolger: Triptych  edited by Peadar O’Donoghue The Blue Nib Chapbook Four


Neil Leadbeater Carla Scanaro Robin…

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Bonnie’s Crew #6 – December 2019

Bonnie's Crew

Welcome to our last issue of Bonnie’s Crew for 2019 – and what a beautiful second year you’ve all made it around here.

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Add comment December 9, 2019

Remembering Eggshells – Sarah James

Remembering Eggshells

Every year with my son’s birthday cake,
I relive hours of pushing, the rush to cut
me open. My boy alive but in neonatal care,
with nasal drip and encased in plastic.

The years too since Mum’s diagnosis.
She could only hold him later,
after her radiotherapy; her head
dressed up like a cosied teapot.

Her baldness was softened by baby fuzz
as his hair grew free of fluffy chickness.
We watch together as he blows out
his fifteen candles. He’s taller than us now,

but I still feel the eggshell thinness
of both their bared scalps.

Sarah James/Leavesley is a poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer. Her recent titles How to Grow Matches (Against The Grain Poetry Press) and plenty-fish (Nine Arches Press) were both shortlisted in the International Rubery Book Awards. Her website is at

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