Today we celebrate the launch of Sarah Barr’s new Maytree publication, January.
Sarah, originally from London, studied English at London University, Social Sciences at Southampton University and now lives in Dorset where she writes poetry and fiction, teaches writing, mentors writers and leads a Stanza group. Her poems have twice won the Dorset Award in the Bridport Prize. She has worked as a counsellor and as an Open University tutor of social sciences and creative writing. Sarah often writes about relationships and has particular interests in psychological, social and environmental issues.
The collection is already receiving favourable reviews and we’re delighted to share these words from award winning poet, John McCullough:
Sarah Barr writes subtle poems that probe the edges of uncertainties, the details of objects and landscapes gradually revealing her speakers’ unease. The disjunctions in the title piece evoke the sudden leaps of a mind actively thinking, the white spaces between stanzas inviting us to imagine what’s going on beneath the clipped surface of the language. Elsewhere, simple phrasing holds carefully nuanced images: the menace of cracking ice, a long-married couple surrounded by ‘masks / and stiff-limbed, velvet-dressed dolls.’ The writing carries on unfolding inside the reader long after their eyes have left the page.
We stride out
and listen to the scrunch of boots
in the deep, dry powder.
Down the slippery path where frosted catkins
and hawthorn overhang
to the half-way metal bench
upholstered in white.
We track across the sloping field,
admire our footprints,
greet the only other human out today,
a swaddled woman with terriers
who roll, pat paws, and turn
We catch snowflakes on our tongues.
Neige, nieve, sneachta, eira, snaw,
a blurring of boundaries.
The sky thickens
and snow keeps falling.
Where are all the children?
Returning home, a fringe of icicles
hangs from the shed roof eaves.
We play music,
slice bread, pour wine.
As a child, cracking frozen puddles with my heel,
I delighted in their special creak,
their mud imprinted with stars.
We’d snap off icicles
hanging from low eaves like glass stalactites,
and brandish them in chilblained fingers.
I tried reading The Snow Queen –
a sliver of glass turned to ice in someone’s heart,
and I never reached the end of the story.
Walking across the lake at Zell am Zee,
towards the frosted wedding-cake hotel,
the curlers’ shouts chiming through the air,
the soft afternoon snow blurring our footprints,
I wonder, how do they know when the ice
is about to crack? How will we know?
January is available direct from the Maytree online shop for £7.00.