Tuesday 3 April 2012

At Sarah's

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:
The Interruption
For Lia
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


  1. Thanks so much, Vanessa. We are a mutual admiration society today but I'm happy for that - after all, we met through liking each other's work in the first place! Can't tell you how pleased I am that you liked the poems.

  2. We are, and I am glad. And I do, and I am glad for that too!

  3. Mother? Just to confirm, this one works on Dads, too. Stopped me in my tracks when I read it. Like you say, it's a stunning collection.

  4. I am glad it works on Dads too! The things we do to our kids, eh? Thanks Neil.

  5. So much stirring truth in this poem! Full of sweetness and candour and stick hands.