Category Archives: Writer

Writer

Projects

For over twenty years I’ve worked in publishing, produced events and tours, on writing commissions and running workshops in a variety of environments, such as prisons, community centres, day-care centres, hospices, schools and universities.

Recent Projects

Past Projects
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Arc International Poetry Tour
A UK-wide tour international poets,
for Arc Publications.

Going Back a Bit

There are a few interviews with myself and Jo Brandon at Cadaverine magazine, and with Jenn Ashworth on the Lancashire Writing Hub.

I wrote call and response poems with Jo Brandon for Like Starlings, an online collaborative project that was enormous fun.

I was poet in residence for Calderdale Libraries, finding ways to encourage people to read more poetry. I organised events, ran reading groups, seminars and was involved in making a large book with two artists, John Lyons and Hafsah Naib, to display in the libaries to celebrate the joy of reading

Recent Work

spottydogsarah

I live by Morecambe Bay and this influences most of what I write. It has developed my sense of sound, and interest in the discreet rhythms of speech and language. The best place to get a feel of my current creative work is Echo Soundings

As well as the single collections, I’ve had poems published in magazines including, New Writing 15, Magma, The Rialto, Poetry Wales, Warwick Review, Washington Square Review, Stand, Tadeeb, Keystone, Iota, Staple, Tears in the Fence, Rain Dog, The Leeds Guide, Orbis, Agenda, The Slab, Smiths Knoll, Shadowtrain, Cadenza, Raconteur. My work has also appeared in multimedia exhibits, dance videos, theatre programmes, pamphlets, public installations and used as lyrics.

In June 2017 Recovery was shortlisted for the Ivan Juritz prize for Creative Experiment. I’m currently working on an artistbook of the piece.

 

 

Hymas&Lewis

Sealegs pic

Poet&Musician combo Hymas&Lewis invite you to
experience the expanse of the ocean and the confines of an
onboard cabin, under the guiding stars of maritime heroes.

In this frontier of tattooes, jackspeak and drownings, Hymas recalls how she, as a twenty year old landlubber, first went to sea, tied herself in knots, learnt to navigate and distinguished spray from fog, ultimately reaping the reward of adventure.

Lewis’s sung voice, acoustic guitar, concertina and shrutibox, and environmental sampling mix with Hymas’s poems, neo-shanties and candid storytelling of personal experiences.

It is a turbulent, joyous 50 minute performance, consuming and illusory, ghostly and enchanting, an experience once felt not forgotten.

Simply staged, Sealegs can be performed it in a variety of settings, with amplification. If required it can be presented in a shorter form.

Visual excerpts

“Sealegs was warm but bracing, humorous, lyrical, compelling. The blend of vivid words with soundscape and distinctive live music made for a delightfully multi-faceted experience. A splendidly approachable demonstration of cross-artform performance.”
Chris Bridgeman, Producer Lancaster Litfest

Audio extracts

You can hear more extracts on Soundcloud
What our audiences have said

You took me beyond the solid edge of things into the rhythms of the sea.
It is a wonderfully hybrid form that I can’t easily compare to anything else I’ve seen.
As a confirmed landlubber I wasn’t sure how much it would speak to me, but it was entrancing and hypnotic. I loved the way you wove your personal story with the myths and cultural associations of the sea.
I felt I’d been on a journey, eerie at first – my hair stood up on the back of my neck – then terror at being lost then the realisation that it’s okay to be lost.
What a great partnership. There’s an unspoken sense of synchronicity.
I’ve never heard anything like it.
Absolutely brilliant. I forgot totally where I was.

We’re touring in 2014/15. Please get in touch if you’d like to book us or find out where we’ll be. We’re happy to discuss fees and technical specs, which are not complex.

Previous Hymas&Lewis Collaborations 
We’ve performed around the North West, including at the Manchester Museum, Lost Voice, Liverpool, Manchester Green Room, Preston Harris Museum. More information on our past can be found here

Publications

*all books are available either through paypal or directly from me: sehymas [at] gmail [dot] com

PEEP HOLE: watch a short demo of Recovery here, the artistbook based on the Ivan Juritz Prize (2017) shortlisted poem.  (Lorenzo 120/95 gsm, hardbacked cloth covered. Edition of 5.)

How to be more than human
7x7cm square book with fold out pages, spine and waxed thread stitching/wrap
£7.50 (+p&p)
A how-to guide, a pocket survival manual for the curious and creatively adventurous among us. Playing between physical, image and text, this octobook celebrates that most extraordinary of creatures by attempting to emulate it. With eight fold-out pages, your book could be one of two colours, depending on its environment or mood. Illustrations made from paper cut.

And if you want to really immerse yourself, read it alongside This fascinating In Our Time (R4) on cephalopods



Wild Swan

A3 illustrated concertina with belly band.
£5 (+p&p)
The unofficial sequel to Hans Anderson’s fairy tale. Stories do not end. Humans have wings. This is a world that is both unfamiliar and deeply expansive, hopeful for how we might choose to live.




Wave Motion
An extended concertina of card and paper, with expanding spine. £10 (&p+p).

Two companion sonnets on the purpose and beauty of waves, making distinct yet comparable the ocean and the plastic within it.

“… belongs in the outer reaches of the [pamphlet] format. Passport-sized and delicate, Hymas’s pamphlet opens out like a concertina when you grip its cover. The two sonnets on the pages that unfold describe standing in open water, waves sucking at the speaker’s legs … This is not the wholesome fish-bright water of travel supplements but a modern skew flaky with plastic…” Leaf Arbuthnot. TLS


A Dock is not a Solid Thing
A Jacob’s ladder format of blue / white two tone card, ribbon and a steel fastener. £10 (&p+p). Limited edition of thirty.

Seven poems on docks, boatbuilding, maritime trade and lighthouses. The binding, a delicate and ingenious design, conveys the movement of water and precarious nature of maritime industries.

“I do especially appreciate it when a pamphlet comes along where the form reflects the content, where the theme is tightly bound, when everything from top to bottom has been considered when being crafted.” Read more of Claire Trévien’s review here

IMAG2262

End of print run

There is no Night
(illustrated card, tracing paper sleeve cover with silver birch bark detail. Handstitched binding.) Reindeer image by Justus Raatikainen.
£5 each (+80p p&p).

there is no night

Set in a Finnish summer ‘There is no Night’ is a modern day fable on love and the troll within us all, while tracing the shifting borders of relationships and water. How do we love another and simultaneously ourselves?

This tender, lightly melancholic long poem plays with union and independence, absence and presence, turning ultimately hopeful.
Read more here
If you want one sending as a gift, please add  any personal message to your paypal instructions and the giftee’s (is that a word?) address.

Reader feedback: “Thank you for this. I’ve read it twice now but it feels like the kind of poem that will grow with every reading. I love the ‘vessel’ you have made for it – so clever. As you said on your blog – in the end it asks for simplicity – but that’s quite hard to achieve.

“As for the poem, I’m finding it hard to start spilling words about it, but I love the way it makes me feel – quiet and still, in the presence of mystery, sad and hopeful. It’s beautiful.” 




In Good Weather the Sign Outside reads Danger Quicksand (art-booklet: letterpress cover, transparent photographic end-papers, card, recycled rubber band binding, 2014) Limited edition of 48.    £8 + p&p Also available from the Bookartbookshop N1 6HB In Good Weather 1

A sequence of four prose poems expose a relationship between storm surges and domesticity. Multiple time frames hide and appear within the folded card sections, playing with how past, present and imagination co-exist.

Semi-opaque end-papers add to the layering of the pieces. This is a playful puzzle and beautiful handmade design.

“The writing impresses too. Whether lyric tetralogy, or four ‘flash chapters’, this account of a relationship weathering threat adroitly meshes natural, medical, and meta-fictional imagery, and anchors its wealth of detail with a taut yet understated line to the heart. The narrative arc is clear, yet travels far, the prose glistens with precise, musical phrase…”  Naomi Foyle. Read the rest of the review here.

“Wonderful. Quite wonderful. In every way. Thank you.” TL, a reader

“The writing is, for the most part, tight, limpid and almost matter-of-fact. There are moments of acute visual perception, as when the sea water beating against the window means the ‘glass isn’t to look through any more, but to look at’…A pleasure to read in every sense.” Billy Mills on Elliptical Movements




Sea-Creatures(poetry art-booklet: chart section end-papers, illustrated pastel paper, waxed linen hand-stitched binding. 2013) £6.00 + p&p handmade poetry art-bookletA collection of encounters with sea-creatures of the air, water and a sailor’s imagination. These poems are fresh, simple and joyful descriptions of the sea’s ecology and the reactions provoked by it. Charts illustrate the richly textured paper, adding to the experience of the reader as seafarer.
“This small hand-stitched rectangular pamphlet is a delightful blending of design and poetry, which work together perfectly…” Angela Topping in Sabotage
“Sarah makes these beautiful creations in which the form of publication and poems intertwine to make a whole. Sea-creatures features maps and torn pages that echo the tide, Lune streams like the river it’s named for across the page. Both publications are full of salt and water; there are mussels, brittle stars, selkies, seabirds, and a multitude of ‘fragments of one world…washed up by another’. ” Claire Dean, Gathering Scraps



Please be patient. Orders can take up to a week to ‘process’

Lune (concertina pamphlet, 2012) £2.00 (&p+p) Runner Up for Best Pamphlet in the Saboteur Awards 2013

handmade poetry art-bookletA long poem set at the mouth of the Lune estuary, rich in imagery and allusion, place and atmosphere. It examines the relationship between land and sea and sea and man, in layers that connect and distance. Subtle, delicate, confident. You can read an excerpt here

“Lune: a leash for a hawk; fits of lunacy; a crescent formed by the overlapping of two circles; a crescent moon; a river whose tidal estuary is at Plover Scar, Lancashire; a poem in five sections printed as a neat concertina pamphlet; subject of these reviews:

 “Lune appears as a whisper. Beautifully and carefully intimate. And once you have fallen into it, it starts to tell you secrets. It is the kind of poem you could fall in love with…” is only the beginning, in Annexe Magazine

Lune is a rich addition to this contemporary pastoral tradition: part narrative, part evocation of land- and sea-scape, part metaphysical meditation on what the world is and what it is to be in that world. The title in the first instance derives from the river, but the other definitions of lune that I referred to in the opening paragraph of this review all seemed to me to come to bear on the poem as I read it.” Billy Mills in Sabotage

Lune is featured in The Guardian Books Blog as an excellent example of its form.




Host (Waterloo, 2010) £11 inc p+p

poetry

“The voices, the stories, the detail and the imagery are powerful, superbly-crafted and original.” Bernardine Evaristo

“The poetry is earthy and takes a no-nonsense approach to setting out their journey from community-based god-fearing and pious, through to the complexity, toughness and verging on faithlessness, of modernity.” Anne Stewart in Artemis

“… excellent at capturing social and religious codes of behaviour, with the acuity of Austen or Alice Munro … Host is a tactile and muscular collection, rooted in the complexities and textures of the physical world. Hymas has created fresh and exuberant work that, at its best, captures the awe of being alive. Sarah Westcott

Waterloo Press have a few copies left… I think

If you live locally to me and would rather not pay postage costs please get in touch, I’m sure we can arrange something

 To buy or review any of the books, either use paypal or contact me on sehymas [at] gmail [dot] com
 
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Testimonials

Ceremony
Sarah and I talked for a long while about the key persons in my life that the ceremony revolved around .  Through Sarah’s patient listening and wise questions we identified the main area to focus on. During the preparation of the ceremony I felt supported and respected as Sarah guided me through the process. I also benefited from Sarah’s  patient, caring and enthusiastic approach and felt full ownership of the final ceremony which marks an important transition in my life
Thank you very much!
Hanneke

 Whenever Sarah is involved in a project, I breathe a sigh of relief. Partly this is because she’s reliable, organised, and brings cheery professionalism to her work. More, though, it is because her attention to detail encompasses the finer points of any production and what each individual involved hopes to achieve. That she is able to steer a straight course away from the dodgier suggestions is another reason that I grab the chance to work with her whenever I can. Rebecca

I would trust Sarah to hold any space, be it joyful or sombre, to ensure the occasion was respectful and relaxed. Diana

Sarah’s background as a performance poet shows in her keen sense of timing and delivery, engaging her audience creatively and according to the requirements of material and events.  Whether reciting her own work or that of others, Sarah’s clarity and expression give due recognition to the significance of words… Sarah has an eye for detail, sets high standards, has a feel for the uniqueness of celebratory occasions and also has a sense of fun.  Sarah’s creative flair is also evident in her awareness of the importance of space, colour and layout to both a room and printed materials in contributing to the feel of an event.  I feel this combination of factors, as well as her many other skills and talents, would enable her to provide a memorable ceremony tailored to and expressive of the desires and needs of the individuals involved.  Sandra

Tailormade Poems
Thank you so much for your work, it makes a very special gift. Catherine

Thanks for the poem – it is so lovely – exactly what I wanted without knowing what I wanted! Jenn

I am very honoured that you have written this wonderful poem for me. Thank you again: it was a beautiful tribute. Mary

The service you’re supplying with Tailormade is unique. It’s a really imaginative thing and incredibly good value when you consider what it is you’re doing. I think it’s a privilege to have access to poets like that, and to ask you to write a poem. Paul

You have done what I asked, captured and celebrated the energy and spirit of my aunt in a great ‘yes’ poem and it moved me to tears. Thanks for using your magic to stitch together memories and moments of my aunt. Sandie

I was delighted by the poem you wrote for my final Munro… It was a complete surprise, and a very original and imaginative idea … the poem relates a lot to me and my tastes and foibles: food, drink, music, habits and even an oblique reference to my mathematical background . And you incorporated these references into metaphors for my progress in the long quest over all those hills. I very much like the result, in particular the way you use the devices of language in an unsentimental way, so that they (metaphors etc.) work more on the parallels of ideas and thence reach their effect. I suppose this accords with my character – and you haven’t even met me! Tim

I was really bowled over by my poem. It is so personal and the details of my life so simply and beautifully expressed. Joan

We can’t thank you enough for the lovely card and absolutely beautiful poem. We have shown this off to everyone and will be getting it framed. We really will treasure it forever, so thank you for an incredibly special and personal gift. Katy

Tailormade Poems

Tailormade Poems

Tailormade Poems is a bespoke poetry service I offer with poet Rebecca Bilkau.

Whatever the occasion, whoever the recipient we can write a poem to fit the bill.

With an occasion upcoming, you need a special present, a greetings card that says it all, a poem…

The Procedure
Click on samples of Previous Tailormades to see if you like our style. If you do, then get in touch through the contact form below.

We take it in turns to write the poems, so whoever will be working on your poem will get back to you to arrange a time to talk about the subject of your poem, garnering as much information and detail as possible to vivify the poem. We can do this over the phone or on Skype.

We’ll also arrange the timescale in which you want the poem. In an ideal world, we’d like a month between first contact and sending the poem. This is because you might want to tweak a bit here and there. However, if there’s less time, get in touch – we’ve been known to turn some poems round in an hour…

(Please note, though, when we say tweaks, we mean tops of five words / 1 line.)

Once you’re happy, we’ll set it on one of our Tailormade Cards, and whizz it off to you.

All this service with a smile doesn’t come expensive, either.

Cost
Poems cost £2 a line, minimum of £20, maximum of £50. Add £1 (p&p) to all poems. If you have a specific budget, please let us know at the outset.

We ask for a £10 deposit after our initial conversation, and you pay the balance on delivery of the final poem. This is best paid through bank transfer from you to us when we accept the commission.

Talk about inspired efficiency! And you can read how people have found the service here

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More information on what we’ve written is here. We began Tailormade Poems with fellow poet Elizabeth Burns, who sadly died in August 2015. We will miss her clear insight and gentle presence deeply.

About & Contact

superwomansmall

When I was working in HMP Lancaster Castle an inmate shared his experience of being a dad inside, how much he missed his son and what he wanted to pass on to him. He said “All I’ve got to give him is my word”.

I believe, ultimately, all any of us have is our word. What we say defines us alongside what we do.

My dad used to say “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never harm you.”

I love my dad, but I don’t agree. I think the thoughts and beliefs
contained in words do have power. As well as harm, they can heal, inspire, challenge and illuminate.

I like what Martin Heidegger said: “Language is the house of our
Being”. What he meant by ‘Being’ was, I’m told, the ground of our
existence.

How words root us is what guides me as a poet and celebrant. I am passionate about communication – clear, careful communication – that connects us, enables us to share experience, ideas and emotion.

I am glad to be working with such delicate, strong tools as words. I aim to highlight the wonder and limitlessness of words in poems, stories and song in all aspects of my work: writing, ceremony, coaching …

Based on Morecambe Bay in Lancashire, England, other elements I love in life are the sea and sky. I believe we are shaped by where we live. At the moment, I’m being whittled to a windblown thing.

On a more practical level, my CV can be viewed here.

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