grew up in north Devon and lives on the edge of London. Her first pamphlet, Inklings, was a Poetry Book Society pamphlet choice and Slant Light (Pavilion Poetry, 2016), was highly commended in the Forward Prize. Her second collection, Bloom, also with Pavilion Poetry, was published this year. Sarah was a news journalist for twenty years and now works as a freelance tutor and writer. Work has appeared on beermats, billboards and buses, baked into sourdough bread and installed in a nature reserve, triggered by footsteps.
Q:2. How important is nature in your poetry??
Nature is around and within us; language is nature too. The poem is a kind of sensory organ that noses about, a tool to filter the non-human world through language; a way of reaching or rooting into that vexed space between human and non-human that we innately recognise as part of us.
There is a beautiful quote from John Clare in which he says ‘I found the poems in the fields, and only wrote them down’. I don’t mean to say I wander around in fields collecting poems like butterflies (although that does sound quite idyllic) but I find inspiration where we live on the edge of London. It is quite a traffic-heavy environment but it is also where the city begins to unravel into something less tightly packed and built-upon. I can look out of the window and see the Dartford Crossing and also the office blocks of London. I went purposefully and a bit self-consciously to encounter Nature in the North Kent marshes and was amazed to hear nightingales singing in the middle of the day. But in the poems, as in my own experience, the beyond-human comes in as a protagonist itself, more than a setting.I think it has seeped into me and is the poem as much as I am, if that makes sense.
Our garden, the skies over it, and the small river that runs near, the patch of ancient woodland, Greenwich Park, the roadside verges with lizards and vetch, all these places are in me, and in the poems. A lot of the time, in the first lockdown last Spring, I looked out of the window at the beauty of the world, especially in the early evening. I was behind glass but I could feel and smell the intensity, the conditional fragility of the trees, pear blossom, bird song, sirens.
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More answers tomorrow.