Monday 15 August 2022

Sarah James, "Ten Lines or More Than Just Love Notes"

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 cafĂ© 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. Her pamphlet Ten Lines or More Than Just Love Notes (Loughborough University, 2022) won the 2020 Overton Poetry Prize. 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 Ten Lines or More Than Just Love Notes, by Sarah James

Ten Lines or More Than Just Love Notes (Loughborough University, 2022) looks at love and loss – of a romantic kind, between parents and children, and in nature. It is also an exploration of the poetic range possible within a constraint of ten lines of free verse, and won the 2020 Overton Poetry Prize.

You can see more information about the pamphlet here. Below, you can read two sample poems from the collection. 

From Ten Lines or More Than Just Love Notes

"On the eyelid of the North"

          A response to Dylan Thomas’s "A Dream of Winter"

The dusk lake is full of flitting shadows and next winter’s riddles.
For now, a couple idle, breathing in the last drip of summer light.
Their hand-in-hand stroll slips under the water’s dark meniscus.
Untarred, they linger in silence, not yet knowing their time has split
like an overripe peach dropped from beyond tree-height.

Time does split. Through love, fruit, ice. No mouths gulping
at softly rippled surfaces. The silver flicker of fishtails,
disappearing. And polar landscapes melting. Old seasons
dream a past that will heal the future. The lake’s lens
fills with night; pipistrelles empty out their song.

An earlier version of this poem was previously published in Northern Poetry Library’s Poem of the North.


At depth, I finally open my eyes
and realise how much light
floats below the broken surface.

Encased in the water’s glass,
I glow like a strong filament
in a liquid lamp-bulb.

Here, resistance doesn’t jolt.
Anything could pass through me
and sparkle, even the sharp shock

of existing without him.

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