From the back cover of this 36 page pamphlet:
In Hearth, prize-winning poets Sarah James and Angela Topping join forces for an exciting sequence of paired poems which echo and interrogate each other, finding shared ground and surprising connections.
Home, memory and commonality are explored through objects that often surround our living spaces, our hearths, our hearts. Opening and closing with collaborative poems, the poets’ two voices come together, part and come together again.
From old fires that ‘spark and flame’ to ‘the heart of a secret’ and ‘silenced tongues’, the sequence picks out the people, places and things that shape our lives. The dialect of everyday jostles alongside the influences of Shakespeare, Ted Hughes’ Crow and Mrs Beeton. There are shared words, music and dancing, but beware also of the sharp sting of pins, ‘shadow wolves’ and falling.
Sarah and Angela’s jointly-written poem ‘Crow Lines’, taken from Hearth, was highly commended in Cheltenham Poetry Festival’s Compound Poem competition. (2015)
Two poems from Hearth:
The Washing Line
The sister I never met hangs out my sheets,
pairs socks, dries my husband’s shirts
— sails smoothed towards the sun.
Sleeves brush against sleeves;
their unfleshed white flutters free.
Dropped pegs scatter on the grass.
I clip three together: a plastic family.
That’s Mum, Dad and me;
pinched tight without her.
She has polished the kitchen surface.
My unwashed potatoes
are peeled moons in her hands.
Her cheese soufflé rises from liquid velvet.
Always ready, the ghost of her absence
blurs my face from our photos.
Her dead baby lungs filled with water,
my chest aches where they buried her smile;
its sickle scrapes my ribs.
Childlike, I danced in a dream;
Blessings emblazoned that day;
Everything glowed with a gleam;
Yet we were looking away!
Me mam’s clatterin in ower kitchen
me dad’s at work. Am on me tod
playin in living room. Fire’s in.
Ah sit on floower, spread farms
on carpit, cows n pigs n sheds
all mine t’ rule ovver an all.
Now ah’m grown, owen haaus to rule ovver
me dad’s gone, so’s me mam.
Bring em back, yem days, gimme back
yon carpits, gawdy nick-knacks,
an brassoed stuff, fireplace an all.
Gimme dem days back, ‘ow it was
an me not seein it were passin.
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