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.
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
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.
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 was performed in a variety of settings.
“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
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
*all books should be available either through paypal. If the button isn’t working, then from me: sehymas [at] gmail [dot] com
Sea of whiteness, as glacier
130mm square (folded) cartridge paper, waxed linen thread and blue triangular text elements.
A non-linear, three dimensional artistbook containing a poem inspired by Sara Ahmed’s ‘Phenomenology of Whiteness’, climate change, glacial retreat and the attempt to gauge an unfamiliar landscape. Where does the poem begin? How might a glacier be read? This artistbook explores the folds between human and ice, language and space, reader and world.
You can get more of a sense of the book here
Recovery Lorenzo 120/95 gsm, hardbacked cloth covered. Edition of 5. Please contact me directly with enquiries
An expanding artistbook based on the Ivan Juritz Prize (2017) shortlisted poem. A co-worlding of human and ocean, Recovery operates across multiple timescales. A single tickertape line of oceanic time, following the breakdown of plastics across long pages of the book, is punctuated by foldout intervals of tidal time, documenting the collection of plastic debris from the shoreline. watch a short demo of Recovery here
How to be more than human
7x7cm square book with fold out pages, spine and waxed thread stitching/wrap
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
A3 illustrated concertina with belly band.
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.
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.
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
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).
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
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
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…
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.
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
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.
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
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.