Archive for May 2022




Launching Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic & other offers/news

VERVE LAUNCH of BLOOD SUGAR, SEX, MAGIC – Wednesday, 1 June 2022, 7.30pm-8.45pm on Zoom

Free event – but registration through Eventbrite here required *

VERVE Poetry Press presents a Zoom event featuring Kayleigh Campbell, Sarah James, Kathy Pimlott & Georgina Wilding reading from their brand new VERVE collections.

The event will be hosted by VERVE publisher Stuart Bartholomew, will have live captioning and transcript by Web Captioner and all poems will be screen shared.

A link will be emailed to ticket holders an hour before the event begins.

To read along with the event, people can order a copy of Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic here or purchase all four titles in a special offer pack here.

* NB Registration for tickets closes at 5.30pm Wed 1st June.

OTHER BLOOD SUGAR, SEX, MAGIC NEWS

I’m delighted to share that ‘A Petal for Everything’ from Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic featured as the ‘Poem to Inspire’ in the May Mum Poet Club newsletter.

An author/collection feature for Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic, including three sample poems from the collection, has also been published at Creative Writing at Leicester here.

I’m very pleased too to share a snippet from another review:
‘“Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic” is a contemplative journey from childhood to adulthood of life with type 1 diabetes. Sarah James has a compassionate ear, she never turns to self-pity even when being mocked or describing the sense of unfairness at being disabled: having plans go awry or letting people down because of her diabetes. It’s a journey through acceptance and learning to live with its consequences through powerful, thought-provoking poems.’
Emma Lee, full review here.

I was also delighted to be invited onto (allFM)96.9‘s The Sunday Tea Show with Nat & Ruth to chat with Ruth O’Reilly about Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic diabetes, my writing life/inspiration and to share a few poems on Sunday, 8 May.

POETRY

I’m delighted to have two poems (Bark and Woodland Walk) and a photo-poem (Holly) inspired by a Worcestershire Poetry Society Stanza walk and workshop led by Andrew Hoaen published in a lovely pamphlet, Silva.

I’m also very pleased to have a humorous poem, The I.T. Guy, accepted for Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis.

FLASH

My light-hearted micro/dribble, Harry’s Latest Short Let, published on 50-Word Stories in May 2022.

I’m also very excited to have my drabble, In the Woodshed, published in The Dribble Drabble Review I-IV anthology, available here. And I have a dribble, From the ‘News of the World’ astro-desk, accepted for The Dribble Rabble Review Fall 2022 issue too!

PHOTOGRAPHY

I’m delighted to have my colour photo ‘the first ladybird’ used as the cover image for Southlight 31 and three black and white images, ‘Time Warp’, ‘The ghosts we carry with us’ and ‘Traces of Light’, featured inside.

My acrylic and photography mixed media piece ‘Always in Flight’ is also now online at Bealtaine magazine, issue 2, here.

Add comment May 22, 2022

Into the Blue – poetry and photography as a means of engaging in living

Over the years, I’ve written for a number of magazines about the combining of photography and poetry, as well as how writing fits in with my other interests like walking and cycling. I’ve been thinking about this again though, following discussions in a monthly poetryfilm group led by Helen Dewbery. Amongst these, the flaws that can sometimes be more appealing than perfection, unusual perspectives, images that stand out and a reminder from Helen about how what we know already about poetry can give us confidence in our approach to poetryfilm.

The same is true for me too with photography. One thing that I’ve been trying out in my usually weekly posts on Instagram is not just posting a series of recent shots, but treating them as a sequence, much as I might do in poetry. My 18 April 2022 series of recent photos are, in reality, only linked by being taken along the canal on different walks over a similar time period. But I wanted to play with the possibilities of creating hints of a narrative (and juxtapositions) in the suspension, glistening with anticipation, paused flight, waiting intently, the zapping of an external force, a pull from submersion, shaking off water, then return to stillness ordering of these images featuring different subjects. It’s a very subtle thread, as there is no actual narrative link between them. But sometimes, those are the forces that may move attention onwards, or, at least, hopefully, produce more than simply a slideshow of favourite shots. In my first post for May 2022, I’ll also use Instagram’s ‘carousel’ (series) of photos feature to link images with a more overt common element – the colour blue.

How much these do, or don’t, work for viewers, of course, isn’t up to me to decide. But the way in which individual images can build up to something more, accumulate to create a bigger picture or move a narrative/idea on, is a technique that can be applied to both individual poems or sequences. This might literally be in the images used in the poem but also in other less visual techniques such as patterning similar sounds. In a poem, just as with a photo, I might change the angle or viewpoint to turn the same moment or narrative into an entirely different story, take my blade of grass in the rain images below.

Another important part of both photography and poetry for me though is the way they help me to engage more fully with life, and notice things that I might otherwise miss.

For a book cover, a commission or poetryfilm, I may well plan a shot and use a tripod etc to try to ensure that I can capture it as perfectly as possible. (In a June 2021 blogpost, I admitted that I dream of seeing, and photographing, a kingfisher, and, to do this, I accept that I may actually have to book to go to the right place and wait for that specific moment to come along.) Mostly though, this is not what excites me as a photographer.

A bird of prey at a falconry centre is, for example, to be expected. (Plus, there are many way more technically adept photographers out there more likely to be able to give such a shot that extra something.) What interests me more are the photos that I don’t anticipate, the things that are part not of me photographing but of me living. Many of my pictures are taken without a tripod, using a camera that I can easily carry with me while I’m out, walking, cycling or simply exploring. Such as this image of what I believe is a young buzzard, taken not in a specialised bird or wildlife centre but on the tow path at the back of a neighbour’s house.

Of course, I could just walk, cycle and explore without even carrying a camera. But the camera encourages me to pay more attention to the world around me. Viewing things through a lens or poem also helps me zoom/macro in on smaller details, to record a moment in a way that captures something that was there at the time but often without me realising it then.

In the buzzard photo above, I’d registered that the bird had something in its beak and imagined it to be a sprig. Only later, looking at the camera image on a larger screen, did I clock the feathers of a smaller bird/its dinner strewn across the leaves. With the grass and blue flowers (forget-me-knots?) images, I’d been focusing on the beauty of the blade of grass’s curve and the glistening rain. It was only later, viewed on a larger screen, that I glimpsed the insect, giving me a far more interesting twist to an otherwise beautiful but somewhat clichéd moment/shot.

Most of my poems, even those where I think I’ve planned their structure in advance, often end up taking a direction I’d not foreseen. The flow of words, combined with the whittling away at them and crafting into a poem, will often highlight a detail or emotion that was always there but hidden by my subconscious until the poem revealed this. It doesn’t always happen, of course, but such a slant or turn, being unexpected to me as I’m writing, may also potentially be more interesting to a reader.

There are many other similarities between the two art forms that I’m not touching on in this post, like using multiple layers– something I love playing with in both poetry and photography post-production. But these aspects, in photography at least, are more about imaginative impulses, slanting reality and creating new worlds. (The same is true of my fiction writing, and some of my poems.) The joy in such work is, for me, perhaps, more one of escaping real life for a short while so that I can then engage in living more fully when I return afterwards.

In all these cases though, this is the beauty, for me, of both photography and writing poetry (and, likewise, poetryfilm). It’s also the beauty of the poems and images that strike me most as a reader and viewer, the ones that evoke something unexpected – that gasp of awe which engages me more deeply in what it is to be alive!

On which point, I’ll also throw in a final photo here – not because there’s anything particularly special or unusual about it compared to the millions of far more striking bluebell shots out there, but simply because looking at it lightens my mood, fills me with hope and the energy of living.

COLLECTION NEWS

I’m now counting down the days until Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic is officially published on 12 May.

It has already had a wonderful review, thanks to Mab Jones and Buzz Mag, from which I’m chuffed to share the following snippet:

“[…] This is a book which therefore encompasses all of our human experience, and doesn’t shy away from the more difficult times or the calmer, quieter moments that can often escape our attention or be taken for granted. Tender, sensitive, and insightful, it’s also beautifully written, of course.”
Mab JonesBuzz Mag, full review here.

As well as being available directly from Verve Poetry Press here, it’s also now available from the Poetry Book Society here, and at the Poetry Pharmacy in Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire SY9 5BQ.

A photo and poem combination of another poem from the collection, ‘About Distance’ can be found below, along with an animated gif featuring some of the wonderful endorsements I received.

Big thanks to all these endorsers and reviewers for the time and care in responding to Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic.

OTHER POETRY NEWS

I’m delighted to share that my poem Not the neighbour’s place has won first prize in the Poetry Bites 2022 poetry competition! This was a very uplifting piece of cheering spring news.

In the Dream-Catcher Hung by a 40th-Storey Window at Fallsview, Niagara published in Kissing Dynamite‘s anthology PUNK in April 2022.

PHOTOGRAPHY

‘Ripples deflect reality’ and ‘secret city’ published in Free Verse Revolution Issue V: Cassandra in March 2022. The print version can be ordered here, where there is also a link for the downloadable pdf. (My photos are on page 24 and 25.)

‘Always in Flight’, an acrylic and photography mixed media piece, published in issue 2 of Bealtaine magazine in April 2022.

Add comment May 2, 2022

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