Next stop on the Poetry Pop Up Tour

I’m excited to bring you something a bit different today. Writer and poet Sarah Salway has been inspiring me ever since I first discovered she read my blog (that’s how we first connected — I even interviewed her back in May 2009.) Sarah is Canterbury Laureate and Royal Literature Fund Fellow at the London School of Economics (I know, right? She’s a proper writer!). She’s written three novels and a collection of short stories, and as if that’s not enough, Sarah is also a wickedly perceptive and luminous poet. It’s this last hat she’s wearing for us today to celebrate the launch of her first book of poetry, the fabulously titled You Do Not Need Another Self Help Book. I’ve read the collection and loved it so much — friends, go buy this book. Poetry was (and still is) so important to me when I was healing through my bereavement. Sometimes we just don’t have the words to describe how we feel, which is when the poet sweeps in with her magical eyes and puts into words that which we cannot.

When Sarah asked if I’d like to take part in her Virtual Poetry Reading, I knew exactly which poem I wanted her to read. There’s something extra special about hearing a poet read her own words… you’ll see what I mean when you listen.

So, enough with the chatter. Here’s the very wise and lovely Ms Sarah Salway reading my favourite poem from her new book… The Interruption

The Interruption by Sarah Salway (mp3)

The Interruption

(for Lia)


When I tell my daughter I’m working,

she nods, pulls her chair right up

to mine, elbows out, breath hot

with cheese and onion crisps.


She chooses a red pencil, starts

chewing, sighs over her blank paper,

tells me to shush. She draws us, stick

mother holding stick daughter’s hand.


Look, she says. I try to concentrate

on my work but she’s learnt

from me too well. Really look.

Clumsy fingers twist my hair


until we fight. I say she has to go now,

to let me get on with Mummy’s work.

Outside she sits so close to the door

I hear every rustle, every sigh so loud


that the note pushed under my door

comes like a white flag. Dear Mummy,

my daughter writes. This is me.


Amazing, non?

Sarah has very generously offered to giveaway a signed copy of her book to one lucky soul, so if you’d like to win, simply leave a comment on this post answering the following question: what sweet interruptions do you have to deal with each day? Kids? Pets? Twitter? ;-)

I’ll announce the winner’s name on Friday.

Now head over to Sarah’s blog to follow the rest of her Pop Up Poetry Tour! x

47 responses
  1. Meg Manion Silliker

    as a photographer i am at my computer more times than i care to admit. and there, my little 6 year old annie always waits for me. by my side. she interrupts me a thousand times and even more when she doesn’t know i’m looking. because i can always look up from my computer and catch a glimpse of her twirling or singing or writing or sighing and i know i must hurry so i can grab her hands and twirl along with her. it’s so hard, this balance between mom and professional, between satisfied client and happy little girl. what a beautiful poem. i get it. it tugs on my heartstrings. xo

  2. Barbara Harrison

    My sweetest of all interruptions are phone calls from my grandchildren (ages 4-3-3). As much as I love talking to them on the phone I love it most when they leave a message so I can save it and listen over and over.

  3. Fiona

    Oh this is lovely, thank you! This book is on my list, but I’d love a signed copy. These days, my interruptions come in the form of wafting chocolate smells, headaches that demand I go outside, dazes in which I dream out of the window, and the insistent washing machine, which always decides to beep just as I sit down to work.

  4. Sarah

    Driving, cooking, and yes, sometimes showering, are sweet interruptions. But when I’m in the car, I find myself being mindful, looking out the window noticing fields of grass, or listening to nothing but my tires on the road. Cooking, something some of us dread, brings on the smell of sauteed onions followed by a delicious meal. And some of the time, I’m having too much fun, or the opposite, and I have seemed to have lost time, and need a good shower, which again, can be therapeutic with water meditations.

  5. Anne

    My sweetest interruption is the relentless:”Maman, Maman, Maman…”. It happens every day, at any time of day or night. It can drive me to distraction but I will miss it when they grow up and move away…which won’t be for a very long time, I hope!!!

  6. Nathalie

    such a lovely post and thank you both for the opportunity !

    when the sun – on its route to the Ouest – start tapping at my shoulder whenever I am in my office in the afternoon

    just now, you and Sarah were my poetic interruption, merci :)

  7. Deeapaulitan

    Since my kids are grown, I think my sweetest interruption is in the form of a soft, furry creature who curls up on my feet when I sit at the table, whines (the most pitiful little sound) to be let out, follows me from room to room – unwilling to be left out of even a moment of my day, and practically trips me when I’m not paying attention in the kitchen (I’m sure it’s her tactic to make sure she gets a taste of people food).

  8. becky

    ooooohhhh…. i absolutely LOVE this kind of poetry! just reading this one opened up a whole file of memories in my mind. i love the opportunity to receive a copy of the book. thank you!

  9. Glennen

    What a lovely poem and such a fabulous title to a book of poetry. My sweetest interruption? My son, of course. However his interruptions are so sweet I wait for those, so can I call them interruptions?

  10. Sarah Salway

    Oh, I’m enjoying these comments so much, and you all are my ‘interruptions’ today. I must stop popping over to read them!

  11. natalea

    my sweetest interruption could only come from my 6 year old daughter, because an interruption from anyone else would not be sweet! and this sweet interruption does come OFTEN throughout the day! Beautiful poem and thank you for sharing it!
    xo natalea

  12. Valerie Weiss

    The sweetest of interruptions are the ones that come from my 16 month old daughter…practicing the new words she’s learning or showing me a sign for sleep. The darkest of interruptions can come from within my own mind…my thoughts can cripple me at times and I look to the world to calm the chatter.

  13. Cecilia

    i’m loving everyone’s interruptions, and i’d LOVE to win this book.

    my sweetest interruption is my two year old who doesn’t whine or plead, but just looks up at me and says, “hug?” how can i deny her?

  14. Marjorie

    3 things..

    #1 Daydreams. Anything can trigger these – goals, new ideas, a new pair of shoes, a dinner date.. How I wish I can run away with my head sometimes.

    #2 Sweets! I put the chocolates away but I get up from my desk every 5 minutes to take a bite.

    #3 Phone calls from my Love :-)

    Such a lovely post, and such lovely comments! Thank you for the opportunity. :-)

  15. alexis

    Sweet interruption…work it takes up too much time I could be writing or creating photos/art.

  16. Lis

    Oh wow, so beautiful, so achingly accurate …

    my girl is my interruption as well … although she has learned over the years that I am pretty disciplined and stay focused so she now will rush over, lean in and say “kiss kiss” puckering up for a quick smooch and rush off again. Hearing these words, I realize I miss her need for my continual presence in her life.

    Thank you for introducing us to Sarah … the very best poems and my favorite poets remind me to pay closer attention to the details of my life. My nightstand needs this collection! xo

  17. Gerri

    My son Noah is my sweetest interruption. He’s my biggest joy. When I begin to get flustered, I tell myself over and over that he’s a gift that I was blessed to mother. ;)

  18. Jackie

    reading material…books, magazines, blogs anything and everything. It’s all I can do sometimes not to be distracted by beautiful (ok, not always beautiful) things to read. However the interruptions are sweet and there are worse things in life one could do than spend their time reading!

  19. Deborah Jackson

    What a lovely poem and the book cover is fabulous, the desk reminds me of my desk at Junior school, old and battered with an ink well! I never did particularly well at Junior school but I have lovely memories of a teacher who brought her pet poodle into the classroom and I won a school poetry competition once! Its lovely reading everyone’s sweet interruptions and I have many of my own, mostly from my dogs wanting cuddles and kisses. Or the kettle singing to me to make a cup of tea, a bird singing outside my window, or the soft late afternoon sunlight streaming in through my blinds inviting me to stop what I am doing and bathe in its soft, mellow warmth – beautiful :)

  20. Nikki

    Definitely kids. We’re a homeschooling family, so they aren’t really interruptions per se, and the kids are teens now, but still… My son is 15 and does a lot on his own now. My lovely 13 year old daughter, though, still loves to do things with Mom. And I love that, and her. Yet there are times when I do want to get on with my own project. Of course, there are also the two brother cats who want to go in and out dozens of times throughout the day. They’re just so adorable, though, that I don’t usually mind…especially when Merlin ends up in my lap, purring as I type.

    Gorgeous poem, by the way! Thanks!

  21. katherine

    my eldest dog, she’s seventeen & cannot hold her bladder as well, she wakes me up, sweet dear, at three-thirty in the morning to go outside to tinkle!

  22. Kerianne

    So beautiful!

    My sweetest interruption comes in the form of my husband coming home from University and kissing me on the forehead.

    Also – rainbows over the ocean and beautiful songs – i try to stop and cherish these moments.

  23. Nicola

    I work from home and when my little boy is being looked after downstairs by my Mum I often hear him shouting “Mammy” which is hard to ignore. Then there are my dogs, two very badly behaved border collies who take it is a personal affront if I don’t play with them frequently. I usually find a ball or two near my feet and a dog somewhere nearby waiting for me to throw it!!

  24. Briana Morrison

    I’d have to say my most common interruptions come from my two adorable, needy little fur-ball kitties. I’ll be working at my computer and the next thing I know there is a tail in my face or an entire cat sitting in front of my screen. Sometimes Jasmine will even walk behind my computer and delicately put her paws on top of the screen and peek her head over. Gotta love them!

  25. patti scanlon

    You always provide such good things to ponder on. Thank you. Sweet interruptions in my life ow yes must be my sweet good boys. I love them so much that honestly just loving each moment with them makes the interruptions the little ordinary moments in our lives, the mess , the chaos full of Gratitude.

  26. Isabella Rose

    Loved this poem and can definately relate since my sweet “interuptions” are my beautiful girls as well. I contantly remind myself that one day I will be wishing for these…

  27. Heidi Redfield

    Love the tittle and poem, My sweet interruptions, are this silly white cat I fostered 7 years ago who has claimed my heart since the day she came thru my door. She will jump in the middle of a project and with her look it’s my time and say Meow very directly and kinda loud. Or walk circles around me until I almost trip over her, with nonstop meow, meows. Until she has fully interrupted me and of course I stop and give her some love. When she came into my life she came with the name Miss Purrington, and it so fits her.

  28. Angela Vular

    At work, my interruptions are children’s hands raised frantically while I’m trying to explain a writing project. The important question they most frequently ask…Can I sharpen my pencil? Gets me every time! At home, my interruptions are my dog and my mom’s dog (whom I’ve taken under my wings after Mom died). They follow me everywhere. I’ve actually tripped over my mom’s dog. Really, how can I complain….dogs are great companions and so loyal…the school children are blessings. Thanks for bringing my attention to this poetry book. It’s on my list for sure, unless I’m lucky enough to win one. Love the poem!

  29. sara (sushi lover)

    sad as it looks many nights my boyfriend sits on a desk next to me but we both look at each computer, lost in internet or work. I get annoyed when he interrupts to share something he has found, but it’s so great that he is there.

  30. kelly

    I absolutely LOVE this poem. It is my middle daughter and I completely! I have two other kiddos, a dog, and a rabbit…so yeah…my work seems like the interuption.

  31. kelly collins

    Sweet Interuptions – How beautifully put!

    I come home from a twelve hour shift in a busy ER exhausted and spent. After the happy dance welcome, my sweet dog Freddie runs to me with his ball – drops it at my feet and whines and nudges me until I engage in his long awaited play. He is so understanding and forgiving!

  32. Glenda Childers

    How delicious to hear this great poem read in her own sweet voice. (British accent, to boot.)

    My interruption is … my own brain.


  33. Tara Morris

    My sweetest interruption happened today. I am a public health nurse and received a desperate call from a father trying to care for his one year old daughter alone. He had a small bed for his little one and he slept on the floor. He owned no other furniture, clothing or toys. He needed help. I placed an e mail that went viral in our community and I received numerous calls to help.Hand in hand we are in this life together. Sweet interruptions of generosity that prove people are kind and that they

  34. Naomi

    Her description of her daughter ‘helping’ her work rang so true for me! The chair pushed right up close, the hot breath, waiting just outside the door. I have a son, a cat and a husband who all hang around me so close it is maddening sometimes!! But maddening in the best possible way. They’re all wound so tightly around my heart :) I could never push them away.

  35. Selena

    My sweetest interruptions are also painful. I recently moved from Texas to London. My baby girl is 24 and didn’t come with me. Every single day, I experience moments where she just needs to be here with me. I’ll see something that I want to show her. I will hear something that I want us to giggle over. I will taste something that I want to share with her. I’ll struggle with something that I need her help with. I want to touch her face. I want to see her smile and hear her laugh. God, I miss that child-of-mine. Every thought of her is the sweetest interruption and as constant as a heartbeat.

  36. susannah

    That brought a tear to my eye xx

  37. Reyna G.

    Thanks for inspiring me today. There are a lot of interruptions I encounter each day the most striking of all is my boyfriend. Haha. Too mushy I guess but it’s true. I so love the poem above too. How old is Sarah’s daughter now?


  38. An

    Aaahhhh, I love this poem. So beautiful! My sweet interruptions are daydreaming. And indulging in the urge to savor a good cup of coffee. And muse about life and why we do the things we do. Or don’t do the things we wanna do.

  39. Michele

    My 14 month-old coming over to me while I sit in my chair, a book in her hand, a smile on her face, hair in her eyes looking up at me-she wants me to read the book to her. She will “tap” her tiny fingers on the photos and I tell her, “dog, cat, bunny” Then she looks up-cheeky grin. Best interruption of the day

  40. Sarah Salway

    Again, again, so happy to have heard your interruptions! Not least because it strikes me that they are all just as important as whatever it was they were interrupting.
    Reyna, she is big now, and it’s my turn to interrupt her. Every time I phone, she is just about to go into a lecture or is out with friends. Perhaps she’ll write a poem about me….

  41. dara

    my sweetest interruptions..are those delicious creative inspirations that come even during the hardest day at work…and participants knocking on my door to sign up for one of my workshops..that is SWEET indeed! Thank you for making me think of that… Dara Dines

  42. Selena

    Thanks so much for helping me find the words. I linked to you in my blog, I hope that is okay.

  43. Relyn

    I think I am too late for the giveaway, but I wanted to thank you for the introduction to another wonderful poet.

  44. Anne

    My little pup… by 4pm she just wants my full attention. Play, walk, cuddles. A fulfilling, tender and fun interruption.

  45. erin

    I have a cat I named picasso. She gets cranky if I don’t read her poetry out loud in the morning. If i get too caught up with the internet she sits very imperiously and looks dead straight at me and makes squawking noises until she hears my voice and then she flops over and rolls around on her back and against my leg purring until the poem is finished.

  46. Brittney

    I love the sweet interruptions of getting offered job interviews, jobs themselves, and every now and again an anecdote from my boyfriend about his trials and tribulations while experiencing his video game stories. I also love getting texts from my mother and closest friends, now 1,000 miles away but so close to my heart!

  47. Pamela Singleton

    My sweetest interruption is my students calling into my staffroom when I am marking, or doing paperwork. They drive me mad sometimes and their stories break my heart daily, but I’m very grateful that they share their dreams with me. I am honoured to teach these brave access students who throw themselves into study in the hopes of improving their families’ lives

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