Student Profiles

Department of English

Sarah James

Poet, Editor and Publisher

“I was introduced to great poets by enthusiastic tutors!”
About my career

Many individual poems I workshopped during the MA in Creative Writing, have since been published or achieved success in competitions, including a pamphlet long listed in the Venture Award 2012. Some of those poems were produced in response to poetry exercises with Michael Symmons Roberts, Professor of Poetry at MMU, Dr Andrew Rudd, Jean Sprackland and Dr Nikolai Duffy.

For two years running, I took part in the Manchester Writing School’s ‘Notes Into Letters’ project with the Royal Philharmonic Society. These poems were published on the R.P.S. website. It was also amazing to get the chance to read in the Carol Ann Duffy and Friends series at The Royal Exchange in Manchester in 2014.

As a published poet studying through Manchester Writing School, I was invited to be part of the North West Poets group, despite not being based in the area. I had three poems included in their anthology: Sculpted: Poetry of the North West. Through that group, I also met Knives, Forks and Spoons’ publisher Alec Newman.

My second poetry collection, Be[yond] was published by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press in 2013. Some of these collection poems were workshopped with my MA tutor, Jean Sprackland, and fellow master’s students. Manchester Writing School tutor Dr Duffy's collection The Little Shed of Various Lamps was also one of two inspirations for my approach in the prose poetry-influenced section of my collection Be[yond].

Since finishing the MA, I won the Poetry on Loan poetry competition 2014 and the Wordpool festival poetry competition 2014, with my winning poem animated for the Blackpool Illuminations. My final MA portfolio, plenty-fish, has been accepted for publication with Nine Arches Press at the end of 2015. My latest book, The Magnetic Diaries, was published in 2015 by Knives, Forks and Spoons. The poetry-play version premieres at The Courtyard Theatre in Hereford in July.

Writing is a constant process of development, pushing new boundaries and building on the skills one has already acquired. The range of poets read, the new writing techniques and editing skills I learned through the masters course are part of this. Sometimes, when editing now, I can almost still hear my portfolio supervisor, Jean Sprackland, telling me to cut unnecessary lines!

My top tip for students is…

Be open to the idea of short work placements within the industry that you want to work in and show your passion for it! Be interested in industry news and keep on top of new developments - this could give you the edge during an interview or graduate open day. Also, don’t forget that time keeping, organisation and brushing up on your basic IT skills are a given within a digital role.

I’m inspired by…

Prof Symmons Roberts was great at understanding what I wanted to do with my poems, the breadth I wanted to cover and how I might do that more effectively. Dr Duffy was inspiring in his enthusiasm for the subject, the poets he introduced us to and his openness and resources on the experimental side of poetry. Dr Rudd was fantastic in providing workshop exercises that kept me grounded and helped me tap into that for inspiration. Jean Sprackland was excellent at helping me to pinpoint general areas of my style and technique that I could work on across a range of poems and also at building my confidence by reminding me of my achievements. Adam O’Riordan introduced me to several techniques that could be used to generate longer poems, something I had previously steered away from.

Why I love Manchester Metropolitan University

I was introduced to great poets by enthusiastic tutors!


Sarah's website:

Student Profiles