Critical responses

Testimonials, endorsements and responses to publications and submissions:

About ‘Dualities’

Oz Hardwick (Professor of English, Programme Leader for Postgraduate Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University):

“There’s a lot to be said for / being an outsider inside,” and Sharon Larkin’s perceptive collection perfectly explores the dualities of being a stranger in one’s social and personal spheres, as well as in one’s own body. The poems explore the paradoxical intensity of dissociation, with delicate touches of domestic surrealism and scorched-black wit chalking the outline of desire, deception, and a secular redemption of sorts. This is uneasy reading, full of the naked-edged truth that lies unseen beneath so many magnolia-painted lives.”


Angela France (Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, University of Gloucestershire):

“Sharon Larkin is a keen photographer and her trained eye is evident in this collection; not only in the precise, sensory, detail but also in the care she takes with the angle of approach for each poem. The poems cover a range of themes but the Dualities of the title is evident throughout, always subtle and often in the form of a surprising twist which delighted me as a reader. Sometimes it is a line, other times a single word which re-focusses the whole poem such as in ‘Mismatch’, where the word ‘proprietorial’ in the last line turns tender care to something else entirely.”


Pat Edwards (Welshpool Poetry Festival) has written:

“This is both a romp and a skirmish, a disturbing dream and a garden of delights. Larkin forces us to encounter what we might call love, lust, longing, and examine these stormy forces through all the stages of life. Honest, sometimes cynical, the poems explore the sparks, flames and embers that burn us all. Perhaps the most stark warning concerns times in our lives we might compare with dusk, when our vision is not always clear, and we “must chance a snarl” in order to discern dog from wolf.”

From Poet Michael Newman:

I’ve enjoyed every poem. I am reluctant to pick out favourites, but Nocturne really impressed me with its imagery and clever rhymes. And a real touch of humour. I also was also much taken by August Evening with Lonicera…again, imagery and a touch of humour. And humour really comes to the fore with Skulduggery. Gorgeous!


From Poet David Ashbee:

The affidavit/oath background to (the poem) ‘Release’ is intriguing and gives a much deeper dimension. I remember Armslengther from Cheltenham (Poetry Society) and love it more now.  May I read “Two Christmases” on the December Talking Newspaper magazine please ?


From Andrew Ballard, Australia:

I’ve got a copy of ‘Dualities’ and it’s great. I’ve started writing.  Poetry like yours is what got me inspired.


About ‘Interned at the Food Factory’

“There is no evasion in these well wrought poems.”
“Only a true poet would stand apart from themselves to observe this process and report back with such intriguing detail.”
“A cool and sensitive final poem” – South magazine, October 2019

‘Powerful’ – Jude Cowan Montague

“A really thoughtful and thought-provoking collection” – Deborah Harvey.

‘Anyone who has any kind of love/hate relationship with food will relate to this gem of a book. It unravels a myriad of feelings and yet manages to find humour in the depths of despair. Privilege to have read it!’ –Dee Russell-Thomas

“… gets better with each read, and the initial read knocked me for six”.

“By turns vulnerable and sassy, heartbreaking and funny, consistently insightful and readable, the food in these poems is no spread for some twee picnic.  In an age of increasingly innocuous poetry, Sharon Larkin is to be applauded for the rawness included here and for an exceptional instinct for the emotional weight and balance of her poems”.  Brett Evans, editor of Prole magazine on “Interned at the Food Factory” (working title of forthcoming pamphlet).

“A cracking collection of poems” – Brett Evans, poetry editor, Prole magazine.

In these poems Sharon Larkin weaponises the language of food; sometimes witty, always moving. Watch out. This is a place where you must check whether ‘the knife drawer [is] closed’.  Kate Noakes, poet.

“Full of wit and cheeky humour but a nonetheless serious intent. This collection has a real glisten to it – that makes you want to read on and on…” Dawn Bauling, Indigo Dreams Publishing on “Interned at the Food Factory” (working title of forthcoming pamphlet).


Responses to individual, uncollected poems

“An gently erotic poem; understated,subtle but no less powerful.”  Thomas Moody, commenting on the appearance of “Thé avec Imogen et toi” on Atrium, 13 March 2018

“What a good poem, Sharon. I really do like it a lot. Clear, simple lines that sound the depths and complexity of the human psyche. And such a pleasure to read too!”  David Calcutt, commenting on the appearance of “On seeing Bredon” on Atrium, 

“Sharon Larkin gets an A*”.  Helen Ivory on Twitter, on publishing the poem Demophobia on Ink, Sweat & Tears

“Deliciously wicked. Sharon Larkin does these poems so well”. Brett Evans of Prole magazine, commenting on the poem On Seeing Bredon, published in Atrium, 21 April 2017.

“A cheeky yet fine poem” – Prole Editorial team about poem Travel Advisory

“Very happy with the response to @SharLark’s wonderful poem today. You won’t look at Bredon the same way ever again” Atrium editor, 21 April 2017

“Beautifully presented … I congratulate you on the amount of creativity and craft that shines out of it”.  Ann Drysdale on a collection manuscript.

“… pure magic and the last line is a triumph”. Ann Drysdale on the poem Skater’s Waltz

“… the pondly poems are lovely; the change of tone between the Damsel and the Demoiselle is especially pleasing” Ann Drysdale

“Well crafted”.  Ann Drysdale on the poem ‘Spots’.

“Excellent”. Ann Drysdale on the poem ‘Clearing out’.

“April 1986 is little short of brilliant … the poem explains itself in meticulously-measured doses. Casual, matter-of-fact, worrying, terrifying … This one stopped my heart”. Ann Drysdale

“The love that shines through it”. Ann Drysdale on part 5 of collection manuscript.

“This whole section is clever and witty. ‘Rubber and leather’ made me laugh out loud and ‘Hibernaculum’ is perfect in its small simplicity.” Ann Drysdale on part 6 of collection manuscript.

“‘Naming the ways’ has some spectacular wordplay”. Ann Drysdale

“‘Grass’ is my favourite here – I could kill you for that third stanza if I though I could get away with it”. Ann Drysdale

“confidence and strength … Surefootedness”. Ann Drysdale on collection manuscript.

“I was blown away by ‘Pareidolia'”.  Ann Drysdale

“so raw and so real” “truly powerful”. Ann Drysdale on the poem ‘Snail on a razor blade’

“a talented writer” – Here Comes Everyone editorial team

“Here are some precious thoughts, perhaps memories, conveyed in words condensed into lines where each word is essential; nothing is unused, unimportant  … subtly showing a discomfort in the moment, making the mundane magnificent.” – Jerome Kiel responding to poems Mismatch, Summer Evening Sounds and Shaggy Inkcaps. December 17, 2015

Critical reviews of readings and performances

  • Reviews of readings:

28 July at Verbatim in Welshpool hosted by the wonderful Pat Edwards who wrote: Another cracking evening at VERBATIM, thanks to Sharon Larkin and our loyal following of open micers and supporters. Sharon tackled the difficult topic of our relationship with food, poems from her Indigo Dreams pamphlet Interned at the Food Factory. She also gave us tender poems about her son, butterflies and the beauty of Wales.

After a celebration reading of our IDP pamphlets at Suffolk Anthology Bookshop in June. Anna Saunders wrote: Pitch perfect readings from Sharon Larkin and Belinda Rimmer tonight. Lovely contrast between the crystalline, poignant narrative voice of Belinda and the potent, image rich work of Sharon. Great to hear two masters of the craft.

  • Rona Laycock on The Writer’s Room, Corinium Radio, 1 December 2016: “Wonderfully image-rich poetry … inspiration through observation … I particularly loved the poem Colours. It made me think again about looking – looking properly at things“. 
  • Anna Saunders on my “Walking with Dylan” reading at the “I Walk On Fire” Festival in Cheltenham, November 2016: “There were lots of wows and murmurs of appreciation – plus animated talk afterwards”.  “Thanks to @SharLark for a really strong set of lyrical poems”.
  • Sarah L Dixon, The Quiet Compere, Cheltenham, November 2015 – I was impressed Sharon did a full space set…  from Island Fever: ‘I chart the tide’s ebb, flow / ebb, flow / as a heartbeat’ and ‘hope appears to rise with each dawn’. The Quiet Compere, Cheltenham

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Acknowledgement: Write Out Loud 24 April 2013 Write Out Loud – Reading with Poetry Factory

Comments on workshops I’ve led

I just wanted to say thank you for the Kickstart meeting last Tuesday, and for all the work you put into making it a success. For success it was, one of the best sessions we’ve had. (Michael Harriss).

Feedback from the first Kickstart workshop I led in January 2017:

“Thanks for this wonderfully detailed information … and for hosting us yesterday. I really enjoyed it and enjoyed hearing some wonderful poetry.” 
“Really enjoyed the workshop last night. A good kickstart to the new year. Very helpful info thank you … No excuses but to get started now”.
“Have already put down ideas for three of the poems. Couldn’t stop poetry thinking last night.”
“I enjoyed it, thank you … lots of interesting ideas.”
“It was fab and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
“Thanks for a great session … Your group has a good mix of people, poetry and styles. I really feel that I can gain from the structure of it.”

“I very much enjoyed the session … and look forward to more in the coming months and working on the prompts in the book.”
“Fab time this evening at CPS Kickstart poetry workshop based on Jo Bell’s 52 … Good to have a structure to work with.”

“Very well done … pace, tone and level just right … generating plenty of enthusiasm.”

Joint plaudits

  • Greg Freeman, Write Out Loud, April 2013
  • Cheltenham Poetry Society’s Beyond the Well-Mapped Provinces includes work by David Ashbee, Robin Gilbert, Sharon Larkin, Judi Marsh, Michael Newman, Stuart Nunn, Gerald O’Shaughnessy, Michael Skaife d’Ingerthorpe, Sheila Spence, and Roger Turner, and is of a very high standard.
  •  Patrick Osada, Reviewing Beyond the Well-Mapped Provinces in South, 2013
  • This ninety page anthology is beautifully produced … But it is not just the production values that impress – most importantly, the poetry is pretty good too!  With each poet represented by five poems, there is enough material to exemplify each individual’s interests and style … and, there is such a variety of subject matter, poems are, by turn, moving or amusing, insightful or reflective. These accomplished poets are masters of their craft; images are unexpected or striking. There is much to recommend in this excellent anthology. Like the Penguin Modern Poets series of the early sixties, this book is a splendid introduction to a group of contemporary poets. It is a poetry collection I’d be happy to recommend to a general reader; a book for anyone to dip into and enjoy” .Patrick Osada, South – Review of Beyond the Well-Mapped Provinces