Category Archives: Poetry

The power of reading aloud together

The power of reading aloud together
The power of reading aloud together

Last Sunday, I got invited to something wonderful. I’d heard about the village here in Kent that had got together at Christmas and read Paradise Lost out loud to each other, and a friend and I were inspired – we would do the same! But somehow things got in the way and, er, we haven’t actually got round to it yet.

But luckily for Rolvenden, the same people who organised the Paradise Lost event organised another reading and luckily for me, I got an invitation. Because it seems you get the well-intentioned (me) and the actual do-ers (them). In this case it’s Rob Pursey, Amelia Fletcher and Colin Teevan – thank you thank you thank you! (I love the story about how when Rob and Colin first thought of the idea, they suspected it might be the two of them reading Milton to each other in a shed.)

Far from it. For this second event, they had invited Michael Longley and his wife, Edna, to visit them and to read his poems aloud with him, and about thirty of us crammed into Rob and Amelia’s wonderful sitting room and let the words wash over us. As Michael himself sat and listened! What a privilege. There was real magic in the communal experience, and a reminder that poetry should be read out loud – especially with all the different voices, accents and even the mangling of Irish place names, as we took one poem each to read in turn…

And I think Michael enjoyed it too…. here’s a gorgeous photo of him at the end of a full reading of his collection, The Stairwell that sums up the day….  (the photograph is by John Stanley, and Rob kindly said I could share it.)

michael longley.jpg

Poems on the railings….

Poems on the railings….
Poems on the railings….

Today is a day to celebrate women, our voices, thoughts and our poetry, so I’m so proud to have a banner of poems by my clever women poetry friends (and me) fluttering from my railings today. women's day 1Even more, given the reputation my town of Tunbridge Wells has, to have received my first ‘Bloody women’ comment. YAY.


Here are some of the poems… have a good International Women’s Day!!



Resolutions for 2017 – a poem

Resolutions for 2017 – a poem

A Never-To-Do List


by Sarah Salway


This year, I’ll have my accounts ready
by the end of April, lose two stone;
not only will I run a half marathon
I’ll collect all my sponsorship money.
I won’t purchase new clothes
but adapt existing ones
to fit new trends, clean my oven,
my fridge will be sparkling too,
full of natural yoghurt, salads, tofu
and champagne I’ll keep for something special
not just open because there’s nothing else left.
The Gilmore Girls won’t be on permanent repeat –
in fact, I’ll watch only documentaries
and every time I click on Daily Mail Online
I’ll send a cheque to the charity
they hate the most. I’ll open my doors
to neighbours, smile at children,
meditate, be the person I always knew
I could be, not the one my mother feared,
I’ll buy no more books until I’ve read….
Wait. What?
I’ll go on orgies of book buying,
enter bookshops with my wallet wide open
and, even if I die pinned under toppling shelves,
let me always be reaching out
for just one more, last, story.

Try your hand at a herb haiku, a basil ballad and some parsley poetry…

Try your hand at a herb haiku, a basil ballad and some parsley poetry…

Come and indulge your senses with a Herbal Infused Poetry Workshop at the beautiful Physic Garden at Westgate Gardens, Canterbury

Saturday 24th September – 11-1pm

Costs £4 (including tea and cake)


How could such sweet and wholesome hours be reckoned, but in herbs and flowers?

Andrew Marvell

I’m running a workshop in Canterbury designed around herbs – their history, their myths and all the remedies – sensible and gloriously silly – associated with them. Enjoy a morning writing and reading poetry with me, inspired by the Physic Garden. We’ll look at myths, make up new remedies, explore the senses and have fun through a series of practical exercises – all you will need to bring is a pen and paper. This workshop is suitable for all levels of writers, and is a chance to play on the page in the beautiful surroundings of Canterbury’s historic Westgate Gardens.

Because numbers are limited, booking is strongly advised, please visit or telephone the Canterbury Ticket shop on: 01227 787787. There may be some spaces available on the day.

Contact Sarah Salway, sarahsalway@gmail, for more information.

This event is funded through Canterbury City Council’s Westgate Parks ‘Parks for People’ HLF Project

To book your place , click here 

Love and Stationery

Love and Stationery

Someone asked for this poem last night, and so I thought I’d share here too… it feels like a time for the comfort of new journals, and not just for women. It’s from my poetry collection, You Do Not Need Another Self-Help Book.

Love and Stationery
Sarah Salway

Tonight, women dream of stationery;
well thumbed catalogues hidden
in bedside tables, falling open
at filing solutions. Some promise
this will be the last time, one final look
at industrial size staplers, hole punches.
Others take it further. Post-it notes
edge their desire as they chase private
rainbows husbands don’t understand.
At lunchtime, propelled out by a need
for highlighters, their fingers brush
sellotape dispensers as they imagine
being held by paperclips,
protected by bubblewrap,
wiped clean with Typex.
In quiet moments,
they will pull out new journals,
those blank, lined, empty pages waiting
to be filled; who knows what magic
will result from an organized life?
At bad times, when the ink runs dry,
you will find a woman standing in front
of an open stationery cupboard, the flutter
of her heart stilled by the solid weight
of correspondence quality paper.

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?”

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?”

Quite a lot, actually, if this little anthology of poems inspired by the 150th birthday of Alice in Wonderland, and linked to the exhibition at the British Library in London, is anything to go by.


Ekphrasis is the inspiration of three inspirational women and poets – Catherine Smith, Abegail Morley and Emer Gillespie. They asked 32 different poets (including me, hurrah!) to contribute a poem inspired by the book. And, I’ve just realised this, of course it is a conversation – a conversation we are all having with Alice and the many situations she finds herself in, a conversation with how the child-us read it and how we interpret it now, and then in a book, a conversation with all the different poems. We have Alice in India…


An insomniac goldfish…


Alice through the mirror…


And that’s just three! The poets are Mona Arshi, Clare Best, Sharon Black, Catherine M Brennan, Graham Burchell, Ian Duhig, Sasha Dugdale, Miriam Gamble, Vanessa Gebbie, Emer Gillespie, Paul Griffiths, Helen Ivory, Anna Kisby, Chris McCabe, John McCullough, Medbh McGuckian, Andrew McMillan, Hollie McNish, Agnes Marton, Abegail Morley, Helen Mort, Grace Nichols, E.E. Nobbs, Richard O’Brien, Robert Peake, Rachel Playforth, Clare Pollard, Amali Rodrigo, Sarah Salway, Robert Seatter, Penelope Shuttle, Catherine Smith, Janet Sutherland, Heidi Williamson, Luke Wright, Tamar Yoseloff.

If you want a copy, and please do – I can’t stop reading it myself – it costs £9.99 + £1 postage via paypal to:, or email details to her if you’d like to pay by cheque. Please remember to include your address!