Today, the paperback party drops in at Sarah Salway’s where many things are revealed. Including my beginnings as a long lost child of the queen, my early writing career with an as-yet-undiscovered newspaper in the 1950s, and my hankering after saxophones...
But I am very pleased to be able to tell you about this lovely lady’s latest - You Do Not Need Another Self Help Book. Already a very gifted novelist, short story writer, lover of interesting sheds and benches, and this years Canterbury Laureate among many other things - Sarah has published her first poetry collection with Pindrop Press. It is heart-stopping stuff.
Her work leaves me slightly breathless, in the best way possible - breathless with the shock of recognition, as well as admiration. But don’t listen to me - what do I know? Here’s Philip Gross’s glowing endorsement:
‘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.’
Here is one of my favourite poems, reproduced with permission. I defy any writer who is also a mother, not to be shaken gently - or not so gently - by this:
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.
You Do Not Need Another Self Help Book can be bought from the usual suspects - but it might be nice to buy it from the publisher: Pindrop Press