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Sophie Sparham

“I gave up everything to write and perform. I gave up my career, my nine-to-five wage and worked three part-time jobs where I had less responsibility so I could have more time to write and trial workshops. I regret nothing!!!!! This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.”

Sophie Sparham is a writer from Derby. She has written commissions for BBC Radio 4, The V&A and The People’s History Museum. 

Sophie co-hosts the poetry night ‘Word Wise’ which won Best Spoken Word Night at the 2019 Saboteur Awards. Last year she became the first poet to perform at the metal festival Bloodstock Open Air.

THE MAN WHO ATE 50,000 WEETABIX

‘If I was asked to make a film of my life / I’d capture every unextraordinary moment.’

Beth’s astonishing debut collection  takes the umbrella theme of the smile and shares it out – with great generosity and care – among a multiplicity of subjects, moods and meanings. Smiles can be brave, shy, sad, or a lighthouse beam of joy. They can be a mess of countless other things.

This subject seems so appropriate to a poet whose presence, way of reaching out to every member of her audience, and most of all her smile, seem to create smiles all around her. Her leaps of imagination take the breath away. Her use of recurring imagery draws a safety-net of light around her listeners and readers.

Some of the smiles that inspired poems in this collection are contributed by people whom Beth has met on her adventures with The Poetry Machine. These poems are worthy of your great attention. We dare you not to smile as you read.

SAMPLE POEM

Sunrise Over Aldi

It won’t always be like this, somewhere
boys will put down their postcodes and weep
into tracksuits, step over double yellow lines
and loiter with one another. On the south side
of the city a mother will embrace her daughter
for the first time, try on her new name and
find that it fits her lips. Caroline she will say,
Caroline, Caroline, you look beautiful. 
It won’t always be like this, somewhere
a seventy-year-old bird watcher will buy a motorbike
and find that he too can fly, a black woman
will show a mixed-race girl how to tie a headwrap
and something in her heart will leap. Somewhere,
someone will utter the words; I love you,
I miss you,
I’m sorry. 
An atheist will speak Allah and smile at the taste
of honey on his tongue, the dead will climb out of
their graves and shake those standing in line
at the bank. Somewhere, you will look down at the
stars shooting across the duel carriageway and
decide to climb off the iron railings. In the shadow
of the service station, you will wait for dawn.

'I don’t believe there’s anything ordinary, anything commonplace about Sophie. In fact, since reading her poetry, I’ve come to believe that - in the same way that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing - there’s no such thing as an ordinary moment, only ordinary ways of looking. Reader: you’re in for a treat'
Helen Mort

SAMPLE VIDEO

More from Sophie!

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Beth Calverley

I feel very strongly that poetry is for everyone. A lot of people think they can’t do poetry. What I say to that is, poetry is just listening to the world, thinking about the world, and writing it down from your own perspective”

Beth Calverley is a poet, creative coach and founder of The Poetry
Machine. Her poetry lives and breathes, holding your hand through crisp emotional landscapes.

Beth co-creates poems with people via her supportive practice, The Poetry Machine. She collaborates with places of work, learning, care and play, helping people to express what matters to them most.

One of Rife Magazine’s 2018 influential young people in Bristol, Beth was a Roundhouse Slam Finalist 2018 and a Bristol Life Awards Arts Finalist 2020. She is Poet in Residence at UH Bristol & Weston NHS Foundation Trust and was published in These Are The Hands, the NHS anthology endorsed by Stephen Fry and Michael Rosen.

Beth has performed at iconic venues such as Birmingham Hippodrome, Bristol Old Vic and London Roundhouse. She has worked with the BBC, Sky, Oh Magazine and The Prince’s Trust, among many other brilliant local and national organisations. Beth is also part of House of Figs, a music and poetry duo, and co-produces Milk Poetry, a nurturing platform for spoken word in Bristol.

BRAVE FACES & OTHER SMILES

‘…I told you / ‘I really like your smile’ / and, to my surprise / you gave it to me.’

Beth’s astonishing debut collection  takes the umbrella theme of the smile and shares it out – with great generosity and care – among a multiplicity of subjects, moods and meanings. Smiles can be brave, shy, sad, or a lighthouse beam of joy. They can be a mess of countless other things.

This subject seems so appropriate to a poet whose presence, way of reaching out to every member of her audience, and most of all her smile, seem to create smiles all around her. Her leaps of imagination take the breath away. Her use of recurring imagery draws a safety-net of light around her listeners and readers.

Some of the smiles that inspired poems in this collection are contributed by people whom Beth has met on her adventures with The Poetry Machine. These poems are worthy of your great attention. We dare you not to smile as you read.

SAMPLE POEM

Spellbound

Amidst the silver clouds and spectacles,
I met you:

lady with the loveliest smile I’ve ever seen.
History rippled your cheekbone map from lip to ear,

cauldrons so clear
I knew straight up
you were magic.

Silence slurped at your cup,
a tiny trick that gave you substance.

Spellbound, I edged closer.

Back then, I was invisible;
too shy to smile without looking for the pieces
of pushed luck in my soul’s reflection,
too shy to risk cracking my face in case it caved.

To me, your laughter lines were loud, sudden.
They drew me in.

The purr of your perfume,
the sheathed claw of your beauty
hinted at a life not read to girls at bedtime.

Your smile was the shock
of near-bad luck turned good.
A black cat walking the right way.
A magpie, joined in the end
by the flutter of a friend.

That’s when you looked straight at me,
like a glass of cold water.

I spilled my thoughts in awe –
appalled at my own daring,
I told you

I really like your smile

and, to my surprise,
you gave it to me.

'This is a rich, absorbing, heart-warming collection, sensitive to life's pleasures and pains. Beth Calverley makes us attend differently to ordinary things - a single look can be 'a glass of cold water', a room 'a tangle / of buttery light', a smile 'a too- / tight scrunchy'. We should all smile more, and we should all read more poetry. This collection covers all bases!''
Helen Mort

SAMPLE VIDEO

More from Beth!

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Sharena Lee Satti

“I write because my heart burns with an

endless desire,

A slave to myself that fuels this wild flower,

Tamed only by spilling ink onto paper,

Releasing emotions that vanish like vapour,

POETRY is my one and only cure.”

Sharena Lee Satti is an Independent spoken word  artist, and Poet from Bradford, West Yorkshire

She is a very passionate poet who writes poetry about her own personal life, current environmental issues, social stigmas, homelessness, poverty and discrimination. She speaks openly about her past and the struggles she had to endure. She found her voice and encourages others to find theirs through poetry and self-expression.

She shares her love of spoken word through performance art. She is an influential, uplifting voice in Bradford, spreading her empathy and love of poetry in her local community. 

Sharena has been nominated for the British Indian awards, Media arts and culture and has recently being associated with Chelping, Red Bull amaphiko, Film and Photographer Tim Smith and Balbir Dance, Kala Sangam (The artist takeover) Bradford Festival, Bradford Literature Festival, and BBC radio, NHS, The south square arts centre, Mend, Bradford producing hub, Saltaire festival, Ilkley Lit festival, Bradford Libraries, Leeds Lieder, BBC Leeds, Drystone radio, Bcb Radio and BBC Radio 4.

She has facilitated spoken word events and has worked closely with schools delivering Poetry workshops.

SHE

The poems in She cover an already long career as an inspiring live poet, host and workshopper – it is obvious straight away that Sharena has produced a formidable body of work. Her collection features new work plus some selected poems from her earlier books.

Her poems are real, raw and honest, addressing issues such as survival, cultural-identity, life’s battles, self-love, bod dysmorphia and many other subjects that people struggle to speak about. Her love of nature is also evident. She writes with her emotions to the fore and her heart at the centre – and with a power that can leave you breathless.

SAMPLE POEM

What Is Love?

Its unlimited conversations and pauses of silence
It’s a language that speaks through every heartbeat
It’s a feeling, a sensual kind of healing
That penetrates the soul that has full control of you
And everything that you do, because when you love
You love without limitations or any navigation
Because love takes its own route
It rides through thunder storms and open seas
Tidal waves and a hurricane’s breeze
It’s like an open sky on a summer’s evening
When the sunset fades into the horizon
And you get that warm, fuzzy feeling
Love is an understanding, it’s being patient
It’s holding it together at the times you want to fall apart
When the beating of your heart pulses
When it palpitates, when life sometimes invalidates how you feel
Love carries you to a place that allows you to heal
Love is wireless, its eye communication
It’s an intuition, a spiritual vibration
It’s velvet red roses stemmed with pin-pricked thorns
It’s the early morning sun rays as a new day dawns
Love is eternal, its more than physical contact
It’s loving her soul more than her body in fact
Love is poetry and she is your muse
Your electrical fuse that ignites your heart
Love is a whirlwind of overactive heartbeats
Where eye contact meets
And you know this is the only place you want to be
Where she makes u feel wanted and loved and she shows you
you are worthy
This is Love.

'Sharena's Voice is bold and vital: both in its bravery and in its unflinching vulnerability. If ever you feel alone in the world, read her poems!'
Matt Abbott
Nymphs & Thugs
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Asma Elbadawi

“Many of my teachers predicted I would fail in life. This book is proof to me that I didn’t fail and a reminder that
we are all created in our unique ways, with our own paths and
interests and identities.”

Asma Elbadawi is a British Sudanese (born in Sudan and raised in England) Sports Inclusivity Consultant, Basketball Player and Spoken Word Poet. Elbadawi holds a BA Hons in Photography, Video and Digital Imaging and a Masters in Visual Arts. Her dual cultural heritage deeply influences her creativity with her main focus being female empowerment. She is best known for her involvement in the globally successful FIBA ALLOW HIJAB Campaign. This campaign saw the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) allow Muslim women to wear the Hijab in Professional Basketball and as the 2015 Words First Leeds winner which is a National poetry competition partnered by BBC Radio 1Xtra and the Roundhouse.

BELONGINGS

Belongings is, as it sounds, a collection of thoughts and feelings that depict the very heart of Asma Elbadawi’s life as a British Sudanese woman. A life that contains multiple influences, expectations and juxtapositions. Her poems are raw and unfiltered – Asma holds little back in her work, covering subjects personal to her such as migration, mental health, racism and sport. 

These lines that started out as spoken pieces have finally made it to the page, to be read and savoured. Asma presents you with that which is hers. Her Belongings. 

SAMPLE POEM

Words

Someone once told me
You should fear writers
They will dissect your wounds
And present you with them as words
Sentences
Sharp enough to pierce right through you
Let you question
At what point did you drop your armour long enough for them?
To read all your fears
Watch you grapple with your mind
Wonder if you’re strong enough to lay with your nightmares
And come out of the other end gasping for air
Use whatever remaining breaths you have left to drag your limbs to safe haven
Bathe in your dreams
And make them a reality
Or if you will choke

The same person once told me
That you should never trust a poet
They have the ability
To spin silk-smooth words that will leave you enchanted
Believing everything they tell you
Holding on to every thread
Drop your armour
Pied pipers, you will find yourself dancing to their sweet tunes
Follow them into whatever danger zone they planted
Fall deeply
For them to leave you hanging

No one stopped to ask how do writers and poets translate raw emotions so eloquently?
What whirl-wind of a storm must their life be in to feel so deeply?

Luckily someone once told me that there is power in your words
People will always fear people like you
Never lose your voice
Use it even if it’s shaking.

'Whether on film or in the flesh, Asma Elbadawi has an undeniable, almost electrical presence – it’s no wonder that she’s shot to fame over the past year as an outstanding performance poet.'
Verbal Remedy
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