16 May 2003
Student poet has first collection published
Sussex postgraduate student Sarah Wardle has her first collection of poetry published this month.
Fields Away is published by Bloodaxe Books and features 85 poems written mainly over the last decade.
"I had poems in school magazines since I was nine, so it's always been part of my identity," says Sarah, 33, who lives near Rye. "I started sending them to poetry magazines in 1997, when I was doing my BA in English at Sussex, and two years later won Poetry Review's New Poet of the Year Award."
As to her feelings about having her first collection published, Sarah says they are: "a mixture of happiness and relief."
"When I first saw the book, I thought the pile of poems had shrunk in the wash," she says. "There are 85 old friends in there, but now they're lighter to carry around. If I were knocked down by a bus, there would be a trace of my thoughts and memories as well as cells squashed on the road."
Sarah describes the key themes of the collection as: "city and country, classics and philosophy, literature and love affairs".
As well as writing poetry, Sarah is also studying for a DPhil at Sussex on poetry and teaching courses on creativity and writing tragedy.
"Teaching a course on creativity has helped me become more conscious of writing's intrinsic rewards, the healing and adaptive nature of poetry, whilst teaching a course on tragedy brought home its open-ended, historically shifting nature."
Sarah's advice to budding poets is: "Read current stuff, collections shortlisted for the Forward, Whitbread and TS Eliot Prizes. Use your favourite poets as a template at first, but then develop your own voice. Check out the Poetry Library on the South Bank. Don't be afraid to send to Poetry Review, London Magazine, and the Times Literary Supplement. Enjoy puzzling out each poem. Write only when you feel one coming on."
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