Sarah Barr

Writer, poet and teacher

Mid-January Hygge

It’s chilly, wet mid-January. Unusually, I haven’t been outside today, except to get a signal for my mobile so I can have a quick chat with my daughter.

‘But cold provides us with delightful opportunities to luxuriate in that feeling Scandinavians call hygge,’ writes Annie Fisher in her Sphinx review of my collection, ‘January’. Annie continues:’ In ‘Ice Hotel’ we find a place:

where everything is carved from ice
but even so is welcoming and cosy.
You can sleigh right up to the door;
they serve hot meals, mulled wine

So settle down by the fire and enjoy this lovely collection. Hot chocolate anyone? Brandy? Spicy punch?’

Thank you, Annie! Good advice.

Annie’s own pamphlet, ‘The Deal’ published by Happenstance in 2020 is one of my favourite recent poetry collections. I love the humour, the light touch, and the vivid stories and characters. Today, I’m choosing to read, ‘The Orange Lobster and the Hens’, in which Donald Trump, portrayed as a lobster suddenly freed from the poet’s book, is set upon and demolished by a kitten-heel-wearing hen party! What a solution.

January review

I’ve been very fortunate to have interest in my writing from poet John McCullough who has read and reviewed my collection, ‘January’. His thoughts are on the Maytree website and also here:

“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.”

Thank you, John!

January Launch

Tomorrow evening is the launch of my poetry book ‘January’. It is hosted by Maytree Press and starts at 7pm.

If you would like to attend this event, send a request to David Coldwell at Maytree Press with ‘January Launch’ in the heading. When you receive a reply you will need to follow the steps to full registration for the event.

Other Maytree poets will be reading and it should be a fun event.

January publication

I’m delighted that my poetry book, ‘January’, is today published by Maytree Press. Thank you Maytree for a vivid and delightful cover and presentation! To celebrate, and to show the sort of writing that’s in the book, The Poetry Village has published two of the poems.


Yes – but I’m far from distressed at hearing the very good news about the American election. A relief indeed! And then there’s the promising news about success with the coronavirus vaccine. Much-needed news.

And I’m certainly not ‘Distressed’ because my poem with that title appears in the current issue of The New European newspaper. I’m very pleased, in fact!

The poem is about the clothing industry and female exploitation. It is a disturbing subject but I hope that my poem is also an interesting and accessible piece of writing.


I’m delighted that my poetry pamphlet, ‘January’, is to be published by Maytree Press next month. The very attractive cover is by artist Richard Clare.

Maytree is a fabulous indie publisher, established by David Coldwell two years ago and going from strength to strength with some excellent poets – so I’m in very good company!

More about this soon.

What Next?

Who knows what will be next although it seems certain that Covid 19 will be with us for many more months. The pandemic has brought terrible losses all over the world so I’m not going to offer trite reassurances or advice. I can only do my best to weather the situation.

On a brighter note, though many writers and poets are finding it hard to write or even impossible, others are discovering more space for for their writing. I’ve been sorting and rewriting my work over the last few months – these tasks can be therapeutic!

I’m pleased to have one of my poems in the ‘What Next?’ summer anthology 2020 published by Dempsey & Windle alongside many other poets including Trisha Broomfield, Oz Hardwick, Belinda Singleton and Jackie Morris. I like anthologies and find it refreshing to read different voices and very different styles of work. It’s a bonus when there’s a theme, as in this case,  loosely holding the poems together. A nice small book available from the D&W website.

Another of my poems has been highly commended in the Charroux prize for poetry competition – thanks to Charroux lit fest and judge Matt Bryden. Like so many literary festivals the Charroux in France was cancelled this year but I’d love to escape to it when it returns, hopefully next year.



New poem on The Poetry Village

I’m delighted to have a poem published today on The Poetry Village as part of the Earth Shadow sequence. I wrote ‘St Helen’s Oratory, Cornwall’  when I was at Brisons Veor on a writing residency. Seeing the poem and the atmospheric black and white photo on this lovely poetry webzine reminds me of my stay and the writing and walking I did around St Just and Cape Cornwall. It was winter, the weather quite mild and sunny, but even so I didn’t swim in the sea! I would love to go back  in summer.

Getting Out and About

It’s been great to get out and about more now that the lockdown restrictions have been eased. This morning I had coffee in Wimborne with my friend Pauline and we sat outside chatting and observing the world go by. I can’t say it was sunny but we were grateful the rain held off, although my garden could do with the much forecast imminent downpour.

My poem, ‘Walking Out After the Pandemic’, appears in the August issue of ezine Snakeskin. I wrote it earlier in the summer when we were all beginning to venture out more, which was a relief, and something to enjoy. I also wanted my poem to express the disquiet that we may not get back to how things used to be any time soon. There are some excellent poems in Snakeskin 275. It’s well worth reading.


Silver Linings

There are positives even during a terrible pandemic – chatting with family and friends on the phone, or on screen, or outside in a garden, drinking coffee in the sunshine, going for a walk even if it’s drizzling. Not going shopping much is a positive for the environment (and should theoretically save time but I can’t say I’ve noticed!).  I’ve called in at our local bookshop several times recently, and I’m so glad it has reopened. I’ve been supporting local businesses by shopping online.

I was delighted to learn that one of my poems has been shortlisted in the Frogmore poetry competition and will appear in the next issue of The Frogmore Papers. I’m pleased to be included alongside 7 marvellous poets some of whose work I know a little such as Wendy Klein and Chloe Balcomb and to get to know the writing of other poets such as Ron Scowcroft whose poem won, and Simon Maddrell. I won’t list everyone here because they can be seen on the Frogmore page. I’m going to enjoy browsing through the work of these poets.

My poem ‘Silver Linings’ appeared in The New European this week (pub. last Thursday) and I’m trying to stay with its hope, and thankfulness for all dedicated frontline workers, this week despite some gloomy headlines.

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