Head to Norwich, virtually of course, and join the monthly Café Writers gathering as they welcome the Quiet Compere Sarah L Dixon and Seamus Heaney Prize-shortlisted Tom Sastry to their poetry Zoom room.
Norwich, we hear you say – why that’s a fair trek from our usual northern stamping ground. Indeed. Well, like Manchester (also Edinburgh, Exeter and Nottingham), Norwich is one of the UK’s five UNESCO Cities of Literature. Also, Sarah L Dixon was a stalwart of the performance poetry scene in Manchester until heading across the Pennines a couple of years back, so we thought it would be nice to catch up with her and, through the continuing online programming in Live Literature Land, now we can.
With guest appearances and open mic slots, Café Writers presents monthly readings of high-quality poetry and prose in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.
Sarah L Dixon is these days based in a Huddersfield valley, where she says she’s enjoying the “space, skies, views, nature”. In Manchester, she ran the nights Post Box Poets and, until 2017, Quiet, quiet, LOUD!, both in Chorlton, and she now runs Marsden Words and until lockdown was touring her Arts Council-funded Quiet Compere showcase, with 10 different local poets in 28 cities.
Tony Walsh said of her debut, The Sky Is Cracked (Half Moon, 2017): “Rich in imagery and with a wealth of truths, we’d be poorer without these poems.” Her second book, described as “an archive of poems written during Sarah L Dixon’s Quiet Compere Poem-a-Thons in 2015/16” is 2018’s Adding Wax Patterns to Wednesday (Three Drops Press). Angela Readman says: “These poems search for alchemy within the domestic, they dig through the ash to find stars.” Sarah has most recently been published in Fly On The Wall Press anthology Mancunian Ways (alongside Jackie Hagan and Lemn Sissay), Bloody Amazing, a Yaffle Dragon publication, These Are The Hands and The Lake. She has several poems on Mind the Gap and has had a poem published on a beermat. Sarah has selected the poems for the Squiffy Gnu Anthology, out in December, compiling the best work produced in 2020 by members of the Squiffy Gnu Facebook page (originally responding to Jo Bell’s 52 poetry project of 2014).
Having previously invited the organiser of Café Writers to Quiet, quiet, LOUD!, now Sarah is invited to Café Writers. With guest appearances and open mic slots, Café Writers presents monthly readings of high-quality poetry and prose in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. While the “real-life” meetings are held on the second Monday of the month at the Louis Marchesi in Norwich, in response to the Covid situation, events are currently being held on Zoom with great success. The night is organised by Julia Webb, winner of The Poetry Society’s Stanza competition and poetry editor for Lighthouse Journal. Her first collection, Bird Sisters, was published in 2016 by Nine Arches Press, and was followed in 2019 by Threat.
As well as introducing Sarah, Julia will be welcoming to the virtual mic Tom Sastry. His debut collection, A Man’s House Catches Fire, was shortlisted for the 2020 Seamus Heaney Prize and was highly commended in the Forward Prize the same year. His pamphlet Complicity was one of the 2016 Laureate’s Choice poets, chosen by Carol Ann Duffy, a Poetry Book Society pamphlet choice and a Poetry School Book of the Year in 2016. He lives in Bristol, so this is a great opportunity to hear from him.