Sarah James is a prize-winning poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer, also published as Sarah Leavesley. Her poetry has featured in the Guardian, Financial Times and Poems of the Decade 2011-2020: An Anthology of the Forward Books of Poetry 2011-2020, as well as in a café mural, on the BBC, on buses and in the Blackpool Illuminations. She is the author of eight poetry titles, an Arts Council England-funded multimedia hypertext poetry narrative > Room, two novellas and a touring poetry-play. Winner of the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine 2020, the manuscript for Sarah’s latest collection Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic (Verve Poetry Press 2022) won the CP Aware Award Prize for Poetry 2021. In her spare time, Sarah is a keen walker, cyclist and swimmer, especially enjoying nature outdoors. Meanwhile, her spare room is home to V. Press, publishing award-winning poetry and flash fiction. Her website is here.
About Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic
Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic is award-winning poet Sarah James’s exploration of forty years living with type one diabetes, a life-threatening autoimmune condition that is now treatable, but remains incurable. The collection tracks her personal journey from diagnosis, age six, to adulthood, including the high and the low points, as well as the further long-term health risks lurking in the background. These are poems of pain, but also of love and beauty, taking in motherhood, family, nature, aging and establishing self-identity in a constantly updating world. The route to some kind of acceptance and belonging may be troubled by ‘trying to escape’ but it also ‘holds / more light than your eye / will ever know.’ The manuscript for Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic won the CP Aware Award Prize for Poetry 2021 and the collection is available from Verve Poetry Press here.
From Blood Sugar, Sex, Magic, by Sarah James
on diastix, and a glass syringe
twice the length of my palm.
on thick oranges. Pushing a needle
through the fruit’s peel was so
of pressing it through my own
thin-fleshed skin, the weight
the plunger home. This sterilised
in my mum’s special saucepan,
Later, lighter plastic for injections,
then a cannula and pump.
Fingertips pricked to a scarred
numbness. For thirty-five years,
Each needle’s point etches
my mind; my body’s rubbed hard
sharp sweetness in my blood;
its other daily stabs as invisible
black braille of blood-test marks,
and the smell of man-made insulin.
hint of a tingle blown gently
across the nape of my neck.
with many quivering reeds;
silent vibrations amplify inside.
of my spine, lower, lower,
and still no lip-touch, no kisses, not
but oh, the soft rush of air,
the slow – fast, fast – slow press
of unseen breaths; a lone owl
hoots through the darkness