17 September 2022

Another new book!

I'm excited to announce the publication of my second book!

It's like buses round here, as they say, and hot on the heels of my debut poetry pamphlet comes my debut prose pamphlet or chapbook, if you will, published by the rather marvellous Broken Sleep Books. Thanks to Aaron for selecting it and for creating such a beautiful cover, following my instructions to a tee! The book is released on 30 September and you can pre-order here.

Here's the blurb... "Merging true tales of adventures on the high seas with imagined dips in magical pools and manmade ponds, Marine Drive is an immersive showcase of fifteen short stories and flash fictions with a watery notion. Sarah-Clare Conlon writes with a clear and powerful prose that allows us to dive to unexpected depths. Come on in, the water’s lovely…"

Praise for Marine Drive... 

“The sea will never let you create a desire line” Conlon tells us. And so it is in this exhilarating collection of short fictions which pulse with the rhythms of the sea as they shift us through “points of interest” from pier to shore to pavilion roof via starboard buoys, candle smut and heavy steel rings. Sentences rise and fall, like the pots and pans at sea set into cacophonous motion by a passing tanker, as Conlon deftly, humorously – “up to the church, down to the pub” – navigates the melancholy of faded towns and lost people, the “reckless” play of youth and commuter-carriage lives versus life “on the ocean wave”. In prose redolent of the clear precision of Lydia Davis, the material evocations of Sheila Heti, and the visceral spikes of Ann Berg, Marine Drive speaks brilliantly to the current convergence of ecological, political and social crises in which we are all bodies at sea. This collection soars! – Andrea Mason, Waste Extractions (Broken Sleep Books)

Her language as slippery and ungraspable as the contents of a pond, a lake, an ocean, Sarah-Clare Conlon captures the way that water transforms everything – and everyone – around it. – Nicholas Royle, London Gothic (Confingo Publishing)

Broken Sleep are hosting an online launch, also featuring Andre Bagoo, Taylor Edmonds, Kate Francis, James McDermott and Daniele Pantano, on Friday 30 September at 7.30pm – sign up here

I'm also organising an IRL double launch for Marine Drive and cache-cache on Wednesday 26 October at Saul Haul Gallery, a lovely space on the canal in Manchester's Castlefield. I'll be joined by James Davies, launching his new book, it is like toys but also like video taped in a mall, out soon with Pamenar Press, and Nora Blascsok, whose book <body>of work<body> is out with Broken Sleep. It's 6.30pm doors for a 7pm start – hope you can join us!

29 August 2022

Hide, and seek

I'm excited to announce the publication of my first book! 

cache-cache (which means hide-and-seek in French) contains 21 poems plus an extra-special bonus track called "Index", which is in itself a poem of experimental proportions.

Here's the back cover blurb... "Written under cover of lockdown, cache-cache draws on psychogeography, semiotics and systems to offer a knowing nod and unique rear window view into surveillance paranoia, borderline domestic goddess hysteria and paint colour charts. With an innovative lean intended to reflect the topsy-turvy new normal, expect OuLiPo-style constraints, found poems and cutouts, Calligrammesque concrete pieces and ‘easyread’ French. Hide, and seek."

It's out with modernist poetry press Contraband Books, a "publisher of New Modernist Writing". Thanks to Eve and David for giving it the green light and patiently putting up with lots of emails! I couldn't be happier, joining the ranks alongside the likes of OuLiPo expert Philip Terry, plus Camilla Nelson, Nat Raha, Rhys Trimble and Scott Thurston.

Scott, whose tome Phrases Towards A Kinepoetics is out with Contraband Books, very kindly gave me a cover quote, saying: "Sarah-Clare Conlon’s cache-cache (hide and seek) plays with the beautiful collision of the generative constraints of OULIPO with the domestic constraints of pandemic lockdowns. Conlon’s distinct observational style is given a new spin as these crisp, incisive texts delve deeply into the infrathin of the everyday, finding ‘Comfort in the familiar […] / Inspiration in routine’. Pensées amicales, indeed!"

Scott's The Other Room compadre Tom Jenks said: “Question your teaspoons” Georges Perec said. Apart from explaining why it took him so long to eat a chocolate mousse, Perec’s enjoinder reminds us that, when it comes to inspiration, everything we need is already here, if we look closely enough. Sarah-Clare Conlon does just that in cache-cache, filtering the particles and particularities of the quotidian through shimmering prisms of Oulipian constraint to find mystery and meaning. Stylish and sharply observed, these pieces are also funny and melancholy, speaking to us of lockdown, confinement and the elasticity of time, as well as hats, dogs, haircuts, camellias and all the things from which a world is made. Those teaspoons really do have the answers, if you ask them nicely."

Meanwhile, my European Poetry Festival co-conspirator Lydia Unsworth wrote this: "The day they added a full stop to our lives, a comma butterfly nested in my hair and the sky was as blue and crowdless as the 1970s. So opens Conlon’s charming response to the collision of the world with 2020. Between two languages, and in a fog that glitters with the rain, there’s a magical sort of survival at work here. Make a rule, let it take you to another world; observe, escape. Even the collection’s title, cache-cache, like a child with a ball – the world will be fun, the rising sadness will be transformed into a game. There’s a heartbreaking serendipity to be found within Conlon’s constructs."

Thanks to all three for their lovely words!

Available for pre-order, cache-cache will be shipped out week commencing 12 September 2022. You can pre-order / order (depending on when you read this post) here.

15 August 2022

Exciting news from across the Pennines

A Yorkshire lass by birth, I’m delighted to have been chosen as Apprentice Poet in Residence for this year’s Ilkley Literature Festival, the north of England's longest-running literature festival.

For the residency, I’ll be creating brand-new work to perform during the festival, running a creative writing workshop, and, alongside fellow apprentice Rebecca Green, judging a competition and hosting two Poet's Corner Reading Group sessions, when we’ll discuss pieces by writers appearing at the festival (programme here).

I’m excited at the prospect of exploring new and rediscovered places and spaces to write pieces for both page and stage. 

For my commission, I’m going to take a dérive around Ilkley and write about different stopping points, hopefully ultimately creating a poetry map. The idea is that the audience joins me on the wander – they (you) can either follow in my footsteps and read my poems in situ at each point on the walk or enjoy them from the comfort of their (your) own armchair (or indeed at the live event)

To tie in with this, I’ve called my workshop Places and Spaces, and in it we’ll examine the role of location beyond being just a setting to action or backdrop for characters. I invite you to question your surroundings, observe the infra-ordinary, visualise the bigger picture, consider the imagined, look for new clues as you read old maps… 

I’m hoping the opportunity to be Ilkley Literature Festival Apprentice Poet in Residence will allow me to develop new approaches, styles and themes, and I’m excited at the chance to create and share new work. I’m also looking forward to being able to pass on some of the amazing support and advice I’ve been lucky enough to receive, to attend festival events, and to work alongside Rebecca and 2022 Poet in Residence Kayo Chingonyi. 

06 June 2022

Let there be... lighthouses

I've had such a great time researching and writing about Plover Scar Lighthouse (pictured, with geese) for the Lancashire Stories project that I'm sad to stop. I even reached the maximum word count of 5,000 words, which is unheard of. I've found out lots about all kinds of things, from cotton trees at Sunderland Point to salt marsh lamb, and from the adaptability of plovers to the fact that of only 60 tidal bore phenomena world wide, eleven are in the UK, six are in the North West and three are in Morecambe Bay. I've written a poem about shipwrecked cargo and I've even read a Psalm.

My desk is adorned with pictures of lighthouses, including Leasowe, Point of Ayr and one on the River Mersey that's no longer there; Ince Lighthouse was a casualty of the construction of Manchester Ship Canal, and was demolished in 1891, 68 years after it was built. I might keep them up and perhaps ponder some poems or shorter stuff. I'm off to the seaside next week, so will try and gather more inspiration in my nautical notebook; see where it takes me. The Lancashire Stories anthology will be out in November, launching to tie in with Lancashire Day, and will be produced by Uclan Publishing in conjunction with Lancashire Libraries. There will be readings and events and so on, so watch this space...

04 May 2022

One Minute With... me!

This week sees the start of my book tour, when I'll be reading different bits and bobs from my debut poetry pamphlet, cache-cache. On Sunday, I'll be performing on the line-up at Switchblade Society, when guests read some of their own work and a piece by one of the other people on the night. Michaela and Will at Switchblade Society asked me to answer some questions for their One Minute With... interview, which I duplicate here...