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. 

📚 Saturday 8 October, 5.30pm, Church House, Ilkley: Ilkley Literature Festival - with Michael Schmidt & Peter Sansom - more here
📚 Saturday 8 October, 4pm, Church House, Ilkley: Ilkley Literature Festival - Poet's Corner Reading Group - free - more here
📚 Tuesday 11 October, 6.30pm, online: Ilkley Literature Festival - Places and Spaces creative writing workshop - more here
📚 Saturday 22 October, 4pm, Church House, Ilkley: Ilkley Literature Festival - Poet's Corner Reading Group - free - more here