POETRY

You Do Not Need Another Self Help Book

‘Sexy and tragic – my favourite combination.’ Will Hermes, Rolling Stone magazine and author of Love Goes to Buildings on Fire

‘Subtly angled glimpses of love, sex, marriage, which reveal them as they really are: matters of life and death. There’s a quiet sizzling underneath the surface of these poems, which can make you smile and wince at the same time.’ Philip Gross

‘Darkly funny at times, her poetry shows us the extraordinary richness and complexity lurking just below the surface of so-called ‘ordinary lives’.’ Catherine Smith

My first collectionYou Do Not Need Another Self-Help Book is published by Pindrop Press. Here is a poem from it:

The Interruption

When I tell my daughter I’m working
she nods, pulls her chair right up
to mine, elbows out, breath hot
with cheese and onion crisps.

She chooses a red pencil, starts
chewing, sighs over her blank paper,
tells me to shush. She draws us, stick
mother holding stick daughter’s hand.

Look, she says. I try to concentrate
on my work but she’s learnt
from me too well. Really look.
Clumsy fingers twist my hair

until we fight. I say she has to go now,
to let me get on with Mummy’s work.

Outside she sits so close to the door,
I hear every rustle, every sigh so loud

that the note pushed under my door
comes like a white flag. Dear Mummy,
my daughter writes. This is me.

DIGGING UP PARADISE: Potatoes, People and Poetry in the Garden of England

‘Sarah’s poetry has always moved me, and now she writes about my favourite subject, gardens… a fascinating and unpredictable virtual garden companion, always drawing your attention to some unexpected detail, or taking some half-told story, exploring it and breaking your heart with it. How lucky we gardeners are to have her in our midst. This could not be a lovelier book.’ Lia Leendertz, The Guardian

Digging Up Paradise  is a hybrid of a book – part garden tour, part poetry, and part journal. I started it during my term as Canterbury Laureate, and it’s influenced by my love of gardens and garden writing, as shown on my other website, Writer in the Garden.

Here is a poem from the book. It was inspired by the wonderful, magical Margate Grotto and was written for my daughter, Rachael:

Mystery

I told everyone I didn’t care,
so long as it’s healthy,
but sitting on a bus one day
watching mothers and daughters
in the street turn in to one another,
(how did I even know the relationship?)
I had to stroke my stomach,
every finger an appeal, and later,

when I held her through that first night,
tiny body settled in the crook of my arm,
I’d have turned myself inside out
so she could wear my skeleton as protection,
but we just carried on a conversation
begun long before either of us was born.
and though I wanted to tell every happy
ending, could only whisper, you, you,

into that shell-like ear, had to trust
her to find the tunnel that lead past
the talking wall to find the one wishing
shell, and on to the ray of light
falling like a perfect circle in her path,
and the fact that she didn’t know
how she’d got there, or even her purpose,
was her mystery to unravel, not mine.