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Sauce (The Poetry Virgins)

Sauce represents the cream of the Poetry Virgins’ work in the mid-nineties, with the odd soupçon from the earlier anthology Modern Goddess.

ISBN 978-1-85224-316-6


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This anthology has a foreword by the acclaimed poet U.A. Fanthorpe in which she states: ‘ They write poems about … bras, moles, trousers, and the smell men leave in bathroom… But this is not domesticated poetry because it is about hoovers. Poetry is liberation and these are the women who got away, who are redefining themselves with a new accuracy’.

Published by Bloodaxe Books and Diamond Twig Press the majority of the poems are written by Julia and co ‘virgin’ and writer Ellen Phethean with poems from other women poets including Wendy Cope, Maria Jastrzebska , Anna Swir and Julia’s mother Vicky Darling. Some of the poems from Modern Goddess and others poems like ‘Ancestrywhich went on to appear in Sudden Collapses in Public Places.

Linda France, Editor of Sauce wrote:

  • 'The poems on the page, as well as in performance, are marked by an unusual fearlessness and refreshing positive humour. These are women not afraid to open their big mouths, break taboos, stand up and be wise and foolish. They are provocative and challenging, imaginative and entertaining. Their spirit is one of celebration and co-operation'.


Read the poem 'Ancestry' →


Have you ever seen my extraordinary feet?
They are waders, descended from flippers.
My little toe is related to a prehistoric mollusc.

My legs are Gothic pillars designed in Barnet
by Presbyterians, who sang Jerusalem.
These columns could support cathedrals.

My womb is a wartime nurse,
functional, regular, robust.
A womb that purses its lips.

My belly is the pillow that old ladies die on.
It’s Victorian linen, the best in the high street.
It clasps my insides with invisible darns.

My breasts are Scottish, from a line of sepia aunts
who wrapped their Bristols tightly in sealy cloths,
with nipples as distant as Iona.

Unfortunately my shoulders are related
to sorry uncles, they hunch and apologise,
sag and wait sadly for sympathetic arms.

But these fine ears are sisters of the sails
that carried cargoes off the flat sea.
They are adventurous and foolhardy.

And this face, that berates me at the hairdresser
and winces in bar mirrors is mine.
I moulded it from ancestral clay.

All mine, with its thumb prints
and crevices. It’s not finished.
You can have it when I’m done.

About The Poetry Virgins

In the 1980’s and 90’s Julia was part of a poetry performance group called The Poetry Virgins which she describes as: ‘A troupe of raucous women who liked a wild night out, and who ‘took poetry to the places that least expected it’ (and probably didn’t want it either!)’. Julia and Ellen Phethean wrote most of the material for the group which was largely about ‘bodies and bras, childhood and cars, sex, sport and drinking’. The Poetry Virgins included actors Charlie Hardwick, Kay Hepplewhite and Fiona MacPherson. They produced two collections of poems mainly written by Julia and Ellen but with contributions by other women.