A giant imaginary dog ate my NaPoWriMo poems!

Yes,  I’m full of excuses about why I’ve failed to keep up with and share my NaPoWriMo poems again this year.

I HAVE been preoccupied and immersed in researching the show I’m writing for a dance company. I’ve been out in the community talking to people and running sessions, wading through all my notes and source material plus watching lots of contemporary dance to try and work out how to structure the piece and accommodate the movement and still find a flow and pace for the narrative and the text.  I’ve also had a few poetry gigs and other commitments, but I think its more than that, its like something inside me anarchically distracts me…I shall call it ‘my inner rebel’.

I think my inner rebel is a stroppy teen with purple hair that rails against anything ‘compulsory’ that my (moderately) grown up self says I have to do. It drags it’s DMed feet and puts things off, even if it really wants to do them. It uses avoidance tactics and procrastinates and says “Oooh, Game of Thrones is on” or “This book is so interesting that you can’t stop reading it, everything else can wait” and “lets make another pot of tea”. I’ve been listening to my inner rebel a lot this month as it always seems to be such fun to be around. I AM still writing but I haven’t done all the prompts and perhaps I should just admit that the daily format isn’t for me and just enjoy reading other people’s poems and scribble through the prompts I fancy. So, if you followed my blog for daily poems,  I send my apologies. I probably will put up a few poems before the month is out but, right now, I’m off to take my imaginary dog for a nice long walk ;-)

The Writing Process Blog Tour

I was asked to be part of the Writing Process Blog Tour, that seems to be happening all over the blogosphere at the moment, by Keir Thomas.

Keir is a novelist and fiction writer, publisher and editor at Puppywolf (who publish the brilliant Best of Manchester Poets anthologies and the poetry collection of the lovely Angela Smith amongst other things) and he is also a journalist and writer of computing books. You can find his blog here: http://www.keirthomas.com/KeirThomas/Home.html

He asked me to answer some questions about my writing and nominate a couple of other writers to carry on the blog tour.

I’ve been really busy with poetry, performing at events and working on my latest  play/show commission this week so this is also my excuse for not typing up and sharing my NaPoWriMo poems too.


1) What am I working on?

I’m currently working on creating a new show for the Belinda Grantham Dance Company based on Stories from St Helens. This has involved going into the community and encouraging people to share memories and stories with me, using stories from a website specially designed for the project and wandering around experiencing the place.

I’ve spent time at the ‘Saints’ rugby ground, World of Glass museum, libraries and with community groups and will use the stories and reminiscences as the starting point for a script. My script will then be taken by the professional dancers and choreographer and they will find a way of responding to and using my text and structure with movement and new choreography. The piece, that incorporates both my text and the new dance, will then be performed in libraries in and around St Helens.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

A lot of my work is devised or comes from collaborations. It often uses elements from different art forms or responds to things I find whilst making the work. For example, I did a session with a group of singers based at the rugby ground who sing songs about the rugby and St Helens with original lyrics set to classic tunes. I loved what they were doing and felt it would be brilliant to have them and their songs incorporated into the performance somehow. They’ve agreed to be part of the show so I will build them into the structure of whatever I make.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I’m interested in stories, narrative and performance and love commissions where I interact and respond to either the community or other artists and actors. I like the process of finding something and working out how to put it together or following the source material and finding out where that leads you before making creative decisions about what you edit, include and present as the finished piece.

My poetry and the plays I write without devising or community briefs tend to be things I’m passionate about, stories I want to tell, characters whose voices I want to use. This work often has the ordinary juxtaposed with the fantastical, naturalism woven with magic realism.

I write about my family, my history, an imagined and often twisted fictional history. I write about the place I’m from, I write about the world I know and I love the mythology and fairy-tales that have been imbedded in my imagination since I was a child.

4) How does your writing process work?

My writing process often involves notebooks and post-it notes and hoarding ideas and scrawled free-writing on bits of paper. It sometimes includes talking to people and getting huge amounts of information I may not use.

If I’m creating characters and there is dialogue, I may start with that…find their voice…put them in situations…ask “What happens if..? “

I may wander around a place and listen to the sounds, get a feel of a place, start with a visual image or a movement sequence that I can see in my head as a vehicle for showing a story.

Sometimes it will be a story I hear and I’ll wonder what the other angles and possibilities are for it. If it makes me ask a question, I’ll look at how I answer that question.

For example, my play Ice Baby came from hearing a news story about a woman who’d left her baby in a car and gone clubbing. The story led me to ask the question “Could this outcome be something beyond her control or something that didn’t make me have that instant knee jerk reaction and judgement of her as an “unfit mother”? It also led me to think about the folk tale where goblins steal a baby who they think is not being looked after and replace it with an ice baby. So with these two core things I made a play about a teenage girl who ends up being tricked and date raped and convinced to take her baby out….a storybook that she reads to her baby at bedtime and the hallucinogenic effect of the drugs made the goblins narrative work as they slid in and out of the walls as she slept, became all the agencies that make judgements about teenage mothers and represented the real image of a frozen baby left wrapped up in the back of a stolen car in winter.

So that’s probably more than enough of the chaotic workings of my head. Next week, fantastic poet and award winning playwright Melanie Rees and another writer friend (yet to be coerced) will be continuing the tour but I’ll be posting links to their blogs when they’ve written about their process.


Already behind with NaPoWriMo…and it’s only day 1!

Not a good start. I got sidetracked writing some script, setting up meetings and organising some workshops today so didn’t get chance to write my poem.

I have a couple of hours on trains tomorrow, as I’m off to do more research for the show I’m writing using stories from St Helens for a contemporary dance company, so I’ll try to catch up then.

In the absence of poems, I’ll just post a couple of pictures of some of the amazing dancers from The Belinda Grantham Dance Company that I’m working with.ImageImage

Response to Britannia an Art Installation in Manchester City Gallery by Joana Vasconcelos.

In response to Britannia, an art installation in Manchester City Gallery by Joana Vasconcelos as part of her exhibition ‘Time Machine’ .

(Manchester City Art Gallery 15th March 2014)



Monsters and fantasies
Wild beasts and carnivals
All breasts and ovaries
Teeming into life

Fur and feathers
Flowers and pom-poms
Trim polite drawing rooms
with their enlarged vulvas out

Tasselled and stretched
into saggy boobed strippers
Twisting and cha-cha-ing
Roots writhing about

Evolution run riot
in the petri dish of art
Makes a northern rainforest
or a Manchester tart

Escaping old cotton
Layers cutting deep
to embrace hedonism
In search of its own
glittery bass beat.



Well, I’ve started a blog…


I’m never sure if anyone will want to read my ramblings, scribblings and writings but I’ve started a blog to attempt NaPoWriMo  http://www.napowrimo.net/ again this year, maybe share a few of my 52 poems  http://fiftytwopoetry.wordpress.com/ and the odd work in progress, video or photograph. If you’ve found your way here, welcome, I hope you will read and comment on my writing and send me links to your own.  Sarah x