Thursday, 6 November 2008


When I won the Poetstars competition, I was asked to be a 'guest reader' at Sheffield Hallam University's creative writing e-zine launch. The e-zine in question, E-Sheaf, has yet to materialise, but I will post the link as and when I receive it.
So, after the excitement of the comp, I wasn't really listening when John Turner, creative writing lecturer and insane rapping poet legend, told me about the night. The upshot was that by 'guest spot' I understood 'we'll fit you in for 5 minutes before the real poets arrive' when in fact it meant 'you're headlining and have a 20 minute spot.' Fortunately I called John a couple of hours before the show to double check times and he enlightened me as to the length of my set!
20 minutes doesn't sound like much, but after a poetry 'career' consisting exclusively of 5 minute cabaret spots and open mic nights, it's pretty much an aeon. Getting the mix of funny and serious right is more difficult as well. I'm lucky because I can memorise a lot of stuff, and know all my favourite poems off by heart. I was able to throw a set together, including some new stuff, and it did go down very well. it was more like a 15 minute set in the end. I was so nervous I forgot to read a few poems.
This in fact is a good thing, as I've now been asked to read at a student-run Amnesty International Benefit, which will have largely the same audience and it's comforting to have a lesbian and a chihuahua up my sleeve for that gig.
18th of November, 15 minutes. I can write some new material by then, right?

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Award Winning Poet!

So, the fateful day dawned last Tuesday and I competed in Poetstars at the Lescar. The format was 12 (ended up being 13 because of an admin cock up) poets each with 5 minutes to read, an appraisal from the judges, and marks out of 10 from the audience. I was glad the audience didnt just have toput one tick next to their favourite's name, as that would have made it more of a 'who has most friends in the audience' contest. This way was much fairer. However I was disappointed that the panel were as kind as they were. They really need a Simon Cowell/Nasty Nigel figure to spice it up. i suppose with the audience and poets' fans at such close quarters it would be risky to lay into them too much. The woman (can't remember her name) did get a few backhanded complements in here and there, all in all, I was psyched up for some abuse and felt a sense of anticlimax. The overall standard was good, and varied. i wish I hadremembered the names of more people. there was an amazing guy who wrote about (his?) experiences as a child soldier. I think it was autobiographical and it was really moving. I think he lost out because so many people had gone for laughs (myself included) that the audience weren'tin the right headspace for such a serious piece. there was also a really brilliant16 year old called Hattie/Hatty who had my vote. I honestly thought she was going to win, as did my mum and Missus! It was actually a bit freaky, as I am aka Hatty, and was very like her at 16, if less confident and self assured. If she had won it would have been like me winning 13 years ago... very odd! There were a couple of people I was less impressed with but good grace forbids me to comment. I will say though that if your poems aren't good enough to read without costumes and props and music and other whistles and bells, they are not going to be good enough WITH them, either!
I read 4 poems, all funny but on the sarcastic, caustic side. I tried to look sweet and innocent but channel Dorothy Parker. I was actually compared by the judges with Marriott Edgar. Close enough!
The upshot, as you my have gathered from the title, is that I won. Yippee! The third and second were a very matter of fact, understated but witty woman and a very dramatic, earnest young man who did things in character as other dramatic, earnest young men. He was reading Virgil before the comp, and I accused him of choosing deliberately intimidating reading matter. His reply 'What? It's only Virgil' - as if i had professed to be intimidated by his flashing a copy of Heat around, only proved my point. I laugh at him, but he was a nice kid, and did do very well...
When they had been announced and I knew that I'd either won or not made the top 3, and the person I had actually thought was best (Hattie) hadn't been second or third either, the tension was palpable. I was already getting commiserations from my family when they announced my name as the winner! I'd like to say that no one was more surprised than I was, but I have to say my mum was quite shocked!
I won tickets to see other performance poets in the off the shelf festival, a spot reading at the launch of Hallam's creative writing night on tuesday and a book of 30 poets complete with a dvd of them reading their own work. I've been reading it on my mammoth commutes. It's great.
I also got a trophy! My first EVER! I feel like a regional under 12s ice skating champion!
it's gracing the top of the piano, and my headno longer fits through the door.
God help you all if I win any more, if this is the length of post winning inspires in me!

Thursday, 9 October 2008


Working in a Year 5 class (8-9 year olds: the BEST age to be with in the edbiz) today, I hijacked a lesson by offering a performance poetry workshop inhonour of National Poetry Day. I knocked out an Alan Ahlberg ripoff style poem, comPLETEly sans irony, which was a new experience. Trite as hell, but casting my mind back to that age group I remembered that the thing that got me and my classmates really riled up was kids who always push in, and being a 'pusher' was about as morally egregious as, well, being a pusher in the more adult sense! Hence:

Polly Pusher
Poor little Polly Pusher
Some people say she's cursed:
She never can be happy
Unless she's always first.

She pushes in the dinner queue,
She pushes in P.E.
She'll push in front of everyone
Oh, why can't Polly see?

She's first to eat her dinner
And first into the yard;
But no-one wants to play with her:
She's pushed them all too hard!

Oh little Polly Pusher,
When will you ever learn?
You never will be happy
Until you can WAIT YOUR TURN!

Yeah, I know.
The kids liked it at least, and after a quick Q and A on what we could do to make listening to a poem more interesting (voices showing emotion, actions, showing the characters etc) I split them into groups and had them rehearse a performance of the poem. They were actually very cute. most involved one kid knocking all the others flying while another of them burbled out the verse while facing in the wrong direction, but there were a few slices of gold, like the kid pulling a full on melodrama/soapstar renditon "WHEN will you learn, Polly, WHEN!!!???" and ...What I guess was a modern dance piece based on queueing. the best part was the way they all clamoured and pushed to be first to show their work. That moral lesson went in, then!
Almost makes me want to teach.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Improvised Poems

We had to improvise three short poems on the radio show. One of which was so trite that I cringe to put it here. the other two weren't great, but might be worth posting

Writing Home

Dear Mum,
Don't be glum -
Life here at the Crystal Unicorn Healing Sanctuary is FUN!
But then,
You'll never see me again
Unless, of course, I can persuade you to join us -
Forever and ever and ever

Cockle Pickers

I know, it's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it
Keep your heads down: soon you'll all get through it.
Hey, no one said this new life would come cheap:
Ignore the cold. Wade on, towards the deep.

feel free to tear to shreds.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Spoken Word Antics (again)

My burgeoning media career(!) took another step forward today. My friend Adele and I were both asked to come on Sheffield Live's Spoken Word Antics for the regular host Robin's last show for a while. He wanted to go out with somehting a bit different and put a call out for poets to improvise some work live on the show. Adele and I were the only ones brave/stupid enough to volunteer! We came up with an interesting piece about Facebook, which was fun, and some poems on themes given to us by Robin. I felt myself somewhat outclassed by Adele, maybe because our tones are so different. Robin and I also improvised a truly egregious limerick about a Seagull! Adele, wisely, stayed out of it.
Excitingly, we came up with an idea to keep the show going after Robin flies northwards. If all goes to plan, Adele, Michelle and I may become the new hosts/producers! Stay tuned for news of my new incarnation as a DJ. You never know, Radio 4 talent scouts may be listening!
meanwhile, you can listen to the show we did at or just by googling "spoken word antics" and following the links.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008


In poetry news today:
Self styled "poet" and deluded fool Sarah Thomasin has thrown caution to the winds and entered a local poetry competition. Having never actually competed before, it's understandable that she should be nervous. The idea of a panel of judges poring over your hard-written lines is daunting.
Not quite so daunting though as the idea of a panel of judges scrutinizing your performance and then publically taking it to pieces in an X-factor style elimination show, followed by an audience vote!
Oh my sweet baby jesus what have I done?
If you want to find out/watch as the humiliation commences, please come and support me at Poetstars, the Lescar, Sheffield 14th of October at 8pm £4/£3 on the door. contact me if you want more info.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Dumplings Rock!

So, I did the reading at the Dumpling Cafe. It is, incidentally, on Reuter Strasse in Neukoln, and it is awesome. Vegan and veggie sweet and savoury dumplings that you could (and will) eat all day. If you're in Berlin, go. If you're in Europe, make a detour and go. You'll thank me later.
I felt kind of bad that I was reading in English. I wish my German was good enough that i could write poems in it. I tried to explain some of my poems in German, so as not to alienate people, but I think my crappy attempts were more, rather than less, confusing. Nonetheless, it went well, and I got free food and Bucks Fizz for my troubles!
I was encouraged to put more of my poems up on the blog. What I am going to do is showcase any new ones I might write up here, rather than dragging out the old stuff. I am trying to get enough decent poems together to make a good sized zine, which I'll be flogging/trading in due course.
Any poems that do go up on here, I could really use feedback on, positive and negative, so get commenting!
Off to New York in a couple of days, where I will hopefully get a chance to do more readings. being an International Woman of Mystery rocks. Almost as much as dumplings do.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Ich habe einen Gig!

Wooo! I'm (hopefully) doing a poetry reading in Berlin! One that I've actually been booked for as opposed to turning up and putting my name on a blackboard, as I will be on the openstage :D
It's at a dumpling cafe who are having a 'Ladies' Brunch' at the end of Ladyfest Berlin, or LaDIYfest as it's known this year - they're breaking down the binary gender barriers. This is all very cool Berlin is one onf the least genderbinary places I've ever been, but that probably has to do with the company I keep when I'm here. :)
I'll be reading in English, but i may try and get another poem written especially for the occaision, and not in an Elton John desperately filking something out of the vault in time for Di's funeral way, a PROPER new poem.
No pressure...

Monday, 4 August 2008

Berlin here we come!

The wife and I are off to Berlin in a couple of days, doing some performances at Ladyfest - i'm hoping to read on the openstage, among other things, and then coming back, only to set off again on an in law visit. Better pack, really...

I always wonder about performing in a country where English is not the first language. My German's not bad, but not good enough to freely translate rhyming poems as I go along while retaining any degree of poetic merit.
So- which is ruder, gabbling away in imperialese and hoping they keep up, or murdering what vestige of talent I may have while at the same time butchering a noble and beautiful language? Plus, the ladyfest crowd is pretty international, and while I can enjoy the stylings of Grace et Volupte Van Van - the crazy tiny lesbian rappers - without necessarily understanding a word, I feel that maybe Grace et Volupte are going to get bored pretty quickly of a poetry recital in a language they have only a passing aquaintance with. Still, I'm a complete attention whore, so I'll be up there, jabbering about vegans and chihuahuas, for the benefit of anyone who understands me!

Thursday, 31 July 2008

An actual poem!

This is a bit of a work in progress - I'm experimenting with Haiku - any suggestions welcome. It's a true story, so apologies to Cath, Rob, James and Cath's mum for stealing from their lives!

One For The Baby Book

Cath and Robin were
The first among all our friends
To have a baby.

James Martin soon had
All of us trying hard to
Be respectable.

No swearing allowed
Whenever he was awake
We struggled, but coped.

And while the boy slept
Parties managed to maintain
Quiet decorum.

Sometimes, however,
Jamesie went to Granny's house
To play on the grass

No-one knows for sure
Just what Granny might have said
Each time he fell down

Meanwhile we waited
To hear the very first word
'Our boy' would utter.

Running in the lounge,
He fell heavily and sighed.
'Bugger.' he murmured.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

I made my poetry debut last night on the Antics Radio Show, a monthly spoken word show on Sheffield Live radio. If you google Spoken Word Antics you can find links to the podcast. I distinguished myself by saying 'cunnilingus' live on air. I almost kind of hope they get complaints, so that I can be notorious...

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Opening Blog

This is my official online presence as a poet, having failed to keep livejournal and myspace accounts active, I'm giving this a go.
So, welcome to my Blog. I'm Sarah, obviously. I'm a performance poet. I'll be using this blog to keep people informed of poetry gigs - which so far are restricted to the open mic variety - and other exciting news like me being on Sheffield Live Radio tomorrow. I'll be on the spoken word antics show, as an official actual poet, which is very exciting! i will also post the odd poem here and there, but not too much, because ideally I want people to come and see me perform! You'll also get random observations on the sheffield spoken word scene.
If you're reading this, there will be more - please keep checking in!