Sarah Hymas was born and brought up in Harrogate, Yorkshire, and travelled extensively before settling in Lancaster. Her work has appeared in short story collections, anthologies, magazines, pamphlets, multimedia exhibits, film, on posters, and as lyrics and scripts. She has collaborated with other writers, musicians and visual artists on projects including video and operas. She currently works for the Lancaster Literature Festival, as the editor of its publishing imprint, Flax, and keeps a blog, Echo Soundings.
Sarah Hymas’s debut collection explores heritage: familial, social, environmental. Investigating notions of territory, these poems skein out our complex relationship with the natural world — how, guest, stranger or gardener, we’re pulled into its dynamic cycles.
The two sections of Host (Waterloo Press, 2010) flare with distinct tones. In Bedrock four generations of one family reveal their hopes and disappointments: glinting in the stones of Yorkshire, love, in all its universal peculiarities, sustains and agitates this extended narrative sequence. In Landfall the canvas expands beyond home, to encounter a dark riot of colour: a more playful, if elusive, world of travel, sailing, friendship and sexual awakenings.
Throughout, these poems display a metaphorical brilliance, illuminating the sacred within the familiar. This book heralds the arrival of a passionately muscular voice, rooted in necessity and physical experience.
If there were signs, I don’t remember what they said.
Their authority transcended words. I just knew
it was private. I wasn’t to touch.
Except when Grandpa, besuited and tall, unlocked the door,
led me inside to look at rows of rocks,
butterflies of Japanese silk, all labelled, behind glass.
Cabinets shone as light as this room
surprisingly. His fingers, long like ribs, pulled out a stick
carved with rats, each the size of a fingernail, crawling
over each other, tails twirling. It was the femur
of a prisoner-of-war. He had dominoes made from bones
of another dead man. Not for play but to hold
and feel the weight of my own.
That morning, the choice of underpants was bewildering.
Which should I wear, Doreen? I asked.
Then took the pair she’d laundered,
as I had for the previous ten thousand days, more.
The black pudding went down well,
so much so, I asked the other couple there
Have you come far? As if I was always happy to pass
the time of day with strangers in dining rooms.
Later, I agreed to hold my granddaughter
for the first time in her three months. I didn’t know
quite how so she wouldn’t break her neck.
But she lay, on my knee, against my arm. Quiet.
I couldn’t smile for the camera. I couldn’t lift
my eyes from her tiny body, lighter but stronger
than mine, and face my wife. Why let on
that in less than an hour I’d be dead?
The lake fills dawn with moisture
soft as magnolia flesh,
cobwebs the grey mountains
blurring my line of wakefulness.
Not for him, running back
with a camera full of shots,
an apple, and feverish eyes,
though we’re 2000m above a mosquito.
The sadhu, orange-robed, painted, plaited,
stood in misted water, eyes closed.
Sang. Doused. Gave him the apple.
I haven’t seen fruit for a fortnight.
Go tomorrow, he urges. At first light.
It’s like he’s seen the silhouette of his soul
and it no longer quite fits.
He breakfasts on his apple. Leaves.
I schlep to the lake the next day,
squat by the shore. Beneath bird calls,
I search for the momentous,
as if trying to recall a dream.
Light glosses over tidal streams,
hiding our deepest valley, highest mountain.
Through gale force and iron stillness, the albatross
circumnavigates yearly, mates for life.
Imagine weeks of greys and blues, slate, silver, sky,
rocking to stay vertical.
Without wind to tauten polyester and rope,
sails are like a sextant without sun.
Despite the light and dark there is no night or day,
just three hour shifts, off and on.
The swell breaks on deck. I’ll never
rinse this salt from my ears.
from Host (Waterloo Press, 2010)
Visit Sarah’s blog, Echo Soundings.
Visit the Lancaster Literature Festival site.
Sarah Hymas’s debut collection, Host, will be launched on Monday,
7 June 2010, together with Naomi Foyle’s second collection,
The World Cup (Waterloo Press, 2010).
Venue: Iambic Arts Theatre, above Bell Book & Candle on Gardner St with the entrance behind the shop on Regent St, signposted with balloons (Brighton)
** table seating and cash bar ***
For a map please click here
Time: 7:30 for 8pm start
With poems from all five continents and music from:
Linos Wengara Magaya
One of the UK’s foremost mbiri players, and leader of the
Zimbaremabwe music collective.
The eccentic French/German folk duo. Plenty of costume changes!