Tag Archives: Sarah James poetry

Poem: The Camera Never Lies, but Plays Tricks on the Eyes

Today’s FM is another quality contribution by Sarah James, who reflects on the power and tricks of camera and light: on your vision and mind.

Sarah James also supplied the accompanying photo, so it’s double thanks to Sarah for creating and sharing this post.


The Photo Album

light memorises
patterns of colour
shapes, contrast, image reversed
…in the camera’s neat frame
thin sheet of moon paper
reversed mind order, shape-shift
of time’s unkind frost
memories eyes lost

Questioning Time Online: New Sarah James Poem

Today we have a clever and timely (sorry!) FM poem by Sarah James that was first published on her poetry site for the 21st Century Poets: Make it New project. It was inspired by the photo below it.

Thanks to Sarah for creating and sharing it.

time to wonder

the cuckoo clock hook
hangs weightless
an upside-down question mark
waiting for
an answer to catch

Folding Mirror Poet Sarah James Publishes Collection

fmpoetry is happy and proud to announce that Sarah James, who has created some nice FM poems (please search her name to see them on this site), has her poetry collection, Into The Yell, published by Foyle.

Congratulations and Good Luck to Sarah and everybody involved…and thanks for creating those FM poems.

And have a great weekend to everybody!

New Sarah James Poem for National Poetry Day

Sarah James has written this poem in line with the National Poetry Day theme of heroes and heroines. National Poetry Day is on Thursday, October 8, 2009 and details of Sarah’s appearance at Worcester’s Oxfam Bookshop follows the poem.

Thanks Sarah, and I hope everybody has a happy and creative day.


On good days, I’m ‘bat girl’
– fly without trying, face into gales, glide
through full forces: strong, brave, invincible.
I don’t land but
hover the ground, lighter than
night, keep my wings hidden.

Unhinged by symmetry or hinged by unsymmetry…

My flightless wings hide me.
Head bent like a broken
street light, I slouch-
shuffle-slump, too heavy to hang.
So dark I can’t merge with shadows.
On a bad day, I’m caved.

Sarah James


Sarah is set to turn Robin Hood to celebrate National Poetry Day on Thursday, October 8, 2009 and launch a range of poetry competitions at Worcester’s Oxfam Bookshop.
She will be donning the costume in keeping with this year’s theme of Heroes and Heroines when she is poet in residence for the day at the shop in Worcester High Street. People will have the chance to pop in between 11am and 4pm to chat about poetry, share a favourite poem or bring their own work for some on the spot feedback. There will be a range of inspirational exercises/ideas to share and a display of hero and heroine themed poems by members of the Poetry Society’s Worcester and Droitwich Stanza poetry group. She will help Worcester Oxfam Bookshop to launch its range of children’s colouring and drawing contests and a children and adults’ poetry competition on the theme of heroes and heroines, as well as using the day to write her own set of poems inspired by the National Poetry Day theme and her experiences as an Oxfam Bookshop poet in residence.
Oxfam Bookshop manager Amanda Bonnick, who is also a poet, said: “I am delighted to welcome Sarah James to the shop to celebrate National Poetry Day. As the selection of Carol Ann Duffy to Poet Laureate shows, poetry can be both popular and challenging, and we hope to inspire the people of Worcester to contribute their poetic offering. The theme of Heroes can inspire us all!” The colouring, drawing and poetry contests deadline is Saturday, October 17. More details about the competitions are available from Worcester Oxfam Bookshop or by calling Amanda Bonnick at the shop on 01905 26967.

Poetic Interpretation of John Constable’s Stonehenge Art

Thanks to the Norfolk poets for their three poems this week, and there will be more from them in a little while. Also, thanks to Sarah James, who reviewed today’s poem and offered her advice on its improvement (only one word needed changing, mind!)

For the rest of this week the site will be finishing off the Romantic art interpretations with five more poems for five paintings by the same five artists as appeared in the first half of the series.

John Constable and Stonehenge

Explanation and Structure

We start today with John Constable’s Stonehenge, which impressively captures the haunting spirituality of the location.

The poem tries to join in with the timeless contemplation portrayed in the image.

The poem is a simple but accurate mirror, with a line-word structure of
5-7-5-6-5-7-5. The line length and punctuation also mirror pretty well.

I used an article on stones to find out their names.

Hope you enjoy it, and its quite timely what with the longest day only weeks away. Cheers!

The Poem

Stonehenge de Constable

Barren fields, hills of life…
giving fallen Station stones and Aubrey holes
people who sit and ponder
Sarsen trilithon: three stones standing proud
through time wind and rain
how magical Blue stones and Horseshoe setting
Bring stories, of past ages…

The Painting

Stonehenge by Constable

Copied from the British Museum website.

Sarah James’s New Poem: Mistress Clover

Today we have another great Folding Mirror poem by Sarah James.

eTips Folding Mirror Feature

But firstly I’d just like to mention that Caroline Gill has written a substantial feature on the Folding Mirror poetry form in the eTips summer issue, which is edited by Wendy Webb.

There are Folding Mirror poems by Caroline, myself and several other poets, as well as lots of other great poetry, writing and advice.

If you’d like a PDF copy please let me know, or ask Wendy at eTips.

Sarah James and Mistress Clover

Now over to Sarah James for her epic new Folding Mirror, which is preceded by her explanation.

The Form Blossoms and Grows

Over the past week, I’ve been folding and unfolding the possibilities of Marc’s form. My poem Mistress Clover was consciously written as a folding mirror poem. Initially, a simple observation of rain on clover in my garden, this soon became a metaphor for luck (as seen in card games), power and fickleness, in the form of infidelity. The triangular nature of such a relationship is symbolised by the clover’s three leaves, ironically one short of the supposedly lucky four leaves.

I liked the fact that the folded mirror form gave me the two women (sides) fighting over one man, and the swing from mistress back to wife (as well as the swinging nature of luck). But I then decided to try folding the poem again – so that each stanza/mirror side folded in the pivotal line ‘aced’ is itself folded around a pivotal mirror line (‘count’ and ‘ring’). The claustrophobic, disorientating/deceptive ‘hall of mirrors’ effect of the multiple folding seemed ideal for the subject matter…

Mistress Clover

Three-leaved but still lucky enough, maybe,
your club hand catches each jewel
of rain intact
them as teardrops
see how each one gives you
the perfect poker hand over her


but in the end the Queen
of true hearts may reclaim them
for her diamond
sometimes love’s pale
spaded flowers produce the strongest suit
bleed luck to keep a promise

Sarah James, poet and short story writer

More Sarah James Poetry

Today we have the fourth Sarah James poem to appear on this site, and it’s a nicely crafted folding mirror that tells a complete and touching story.

I’ll pass you over to Sarah to introduce the poem and Bookworms follows straight after.

Introduction: Loosening the Binding

by Sarah James (aka Sarah Leavesley, at http://www.sarah-james.co.uk )

My poem Bookworms was written to test out the folding mirror form and explore the looser boundaries it allows compared to the more traditional palindromic mirror poem. Here the poem folds around a crucial central line: ‘But we reached a full stop…’, with a mirroring of lines in terms of the punctuation and the number of words in each line. This seemed a subtler, more appropriate representation of the book form than a full palindromic (the same words) mirror form. The two pages do not mirror each other but are connected and similar in terms of lay-out. For similar reasons, I also chose to rhyme the paired folding mirror lines: kiss and miss, stacks and syntax…

The Poem: Bookworms

It started with the great bard, his starstruck lovers’ first kiss.
Romance was strengthened by the pungent smell of library stacks.
As we slowly savoured book titles letter by lingering letter,
words collapsed beneath us, skin caressed knobbly spines.

But we reached a full stop. Something didn’t flow…

stumbled over true emotion, hidden between poetic lines.
Our relationship stretched with spaces different interests now filled better,
Newton’s theories fascinated you more than my questioning English syntax.
It was no tragic love tale, but a lucky near miss.

Vertical and Reverse Folding Mirror Poetry

Folding mirrors can either reflect vertically or in reverse, as mirrors do.

The vertical reflecting, where the words mirror in a linear fashion, rather than reversing, is known as specular and an example of this is Sarah James’ Left to Right.

With the reverse folding mirrors the words do not go backwards, as with the real mirror reflections (see image). Instead, words reverse in their placement on their respective lines.

Mirror Writing
Mirror Writing

The poem/diagram below is a simple example of how words can be placed in opposite places in either half of a poem to create a reverse mirror effect.

-Black Brown Grey White-
–Blue Green Yellow–
—Purple Red—
—Red Purple—
–Yellow Green Blue–
-White Grey Brown Black-

First Month Review: A Folding Mirror Identity

This site is now over a month old, and quite a lot of progress and poetry have already found their way into Folding Mirror Poetry.

Identifying the Form

As either a good example of jumping in without much idea or of doing research beforehand, depending on how you look at it, the folding mirror now has a clear identity, whereas a month ago it  was still quite a vague idea.

We have Sarah James to thank for most of that, as she brought her poetry expertise and knowledge to the site.  Sarah informed us that mirror poetry has a history going back to at least 1995, and maybe the Middle Ages, as well as providing us with an example of this form.

This has made the middle line the important element that provides the folding mirror with its uniqueness (please forget my early idea about leaving out the middle line, as it has already been done a lot!)

Haiku and Mirror= Folding Mirror

I had cited haiku as the main influence, and I guess the folding mirror is really a hybrid between haiku and mirror forms.

So in a month we have hopefully clarified the folding mirror form, and how it is different to any previous structures.

Future of Folding Mirror

The folding mirror line will hopefully bring out innovation in finding ways to use it: either as a stand alone, a link between two halves, the end of the first half or the beginning of the second.

The line can also be used to divide the two halves of the poem in emotion, story, geography, space, time or many other poetic subjects.

New Sarah James Folding Mirror Poem

I’m very happy to present to you a new Sarah James folding mirror poem (Fireworks) and explanation (Inspired) of its creation.

Like the form itself, the poem was inspired by the haiku, and developed into a folding mirror, with the two halves of the poem nicely divided in the descriptions of emotion and practice by a folding middle line: unless now and then

The structure mirrors either side of the fold without the words in the opposite line always replicating.

Thanks to Sarah, and I hope you all enjoy it.



Influences and inspiration can be subtle. This year I have been taking part in Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides’ Poem a Day for April (poetry month). I have also been trying to keep a haiku diary, as well as reading and contributing to the folding mirror blog. Of course, they all have one obvious thing in common – poetry. But it was only when the poem a day theme happened to be ‘routine’ that the three subconsciously converged in my poem Fireworks.


What started as a haiku thought wouldn’t quite fit to tight conciseness of the form. Words and ideas pushed the boundaries and I slipped, almost without realising it,  into Marc’s folding mirror form (probably subconsciously influenced by his posts describing his original syllabic, haiku inspiration).


The mirror line is the turning point in a poem about the need sometimes to free oneself in life and poetry from routine and traditional established forms. That the poem should break out of one form (haiku) to end up in a different form (folding mirror) adds irony. When does breaking free of one routine or tradition become another routine or tradition?




Routine rhythms life

but meaning sometimes slips, lost

between the stresses.

Or it tumbles out of line,

unless now and then

you help set it free and let

creation explode

like this poem sparks and bursts
from haiku routine.