Date: 7th July 2015
Sarah James’s precise and astonishing poetry invites us to sample the flavour of memories and experiences for ourselves, the tang of sea-salt tempering the irresistible physicality of these adventurous poems.
Here, the natural and emotional worlds merge in kaleidoscopic colours and nature runs riot. Humans are organisms in a changing and vanishing habitat; the family an ecosystem complicated by love, loss and letting go. The poems swirl, a shoal of brilliant, electric moments. The water may be deep and clear, but the undertow is strong and dark, and sharp enough to cut to the bone.
Praise for Sarah James's plenty-fish:
‘Sarah James’s poems bring the natural world to the page in all its sticky, colourful, goose-pimpled and prickly reality, tingling with precisely observed images. With a photographer’s eye, and all her senses finely attuned, she writes with great honesty of the intimate joys and sadnesses of family life, the body’s frailties, and of the losses and gains that come with love and vulnerability. She identifies sacred moments in the everyday and ephemeral; at the flushing away of fairground goldfish, ‘My son demands a prayer.’ These poems are both grounded in a luscious physicality, and boldly metaphysical, touching on the numinous.’ – Catherine Smith
‘Sarah James’s plenty-fish is an exciting collection with much to surprise and delight. Sarah James has a keen eye for the startling image and memorable metaphor, together with an obvious delight in language and a real sense of how poems feel in the mouth. Each poem is allowed to find its own form, its own space on the page and every line is given its own weight. Reading it from start to finish, I am left with a feeling of the whole collection celebrating ‘the slipperiness of life’ while never forgetting about ‘death’s strong stench’ (from ‘Past Sacrificial’).’ – Angela France
‘I found the poems in this collection fresh, startling, and at times pleasingly unsettling and disturbing. They aren’t poems to comfort but to question and probe. In other words, they’re poems doing the proper job of waking you up, making you feel more alert to the world, to its brightness, its cruelty, its beauty. Sarah James has a sure and assured voice, the true poet’s eye for detail which she evokes with an unswerving clarity through well-crafted and precise imagery.’ – David Calcutt
Sarah James is an award-winning poet, short fiction writer, editor, reviewer and journalist. Her latest book is plenty-fish (Nine Arches Press), her fourth poetry collection. A multi-media narrative in poems, The Magnetic Diaries, based on Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary in a modern English setting was published by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press earlier in 2015. Her debut collection, Into the Yell (Circaidy Gregory Press), won third prize in the International Rubery Book Awards and other recent competition wins include the Wordpool Festival Poetry Competition 2014 (with her poem animated for the Blackpool Illuminations) and the Poetry on Loan ‘home-made, home-grown’ Poetry Competition 2014. She also enjoys collaboration with other poets, artists and photographers, and is editor at V. Press.
Abegail Morley’s new poetry collection The Skin Diary follows a Forward Prize shortlisted debut, How to Pour Madness into a Teacup. These poems confront loss in its many forms with unwavering and astonishing clarity, yet there's an incandescent thread running through every line that makes each alive with fierce and steely energy.