The month of Samhain 2022

Witches’ New Year approaches. With that, I’m Autumn cleaning, creatively speaking, at least. Washing away the dust of the summer fires, sweeping this germ-ridden circle clogged with ash. I say this with every positive intention, which in the current climate of my sick house, it’s not so simple. Some things are outwith control, but I try flow with, around, through it. (I may have recited ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ a few too many times).
Starting with the writing. I’ve taken part in only a few invite-only opportunities. This year, it has been difficult to say no, but something I’ve had to learn to do fast. It’s been challenging; each opportunity offered has been for a great project, and I am profoundly grateful to be asked. Short fiction writing has been on the back burner, which was always this year’s plan to invest in my degree studies and researching/writing longer works. Moving on, a quick recap of my own books released and scheduled to tie up 2023:

Asylum Daughter
Novella
5th May 2022

Incesticide: Collected Horror
Short Fiction Collection
14th December 2022

Clan Witch: Found Shadows
Poetry and Drabble Collection
31st December 2022

There has been lots of work going on in Brazen Folk Horror, which I launched with Ruthann Jagge this year. Here we share regular updates on ‘The Making of Delevan House’. We have many plans to execute, so it’s a great space to follow. You are cordially invited! We expect you to put in some effort—get tight-lacing, break out the good cloak, your best finery, and you better buy an extravagant hat while you’re at it. It’ll be one hell of a ride! You will want to be watching for that pre-order date as soon as we announce it. In the meantime, come enjoy the brazen tease and seduction.

Well, it’s been tumultuous and stable on the homestead with no middle ground— a seesaw over starving shark-infested waters more than a rollercoaster. The pendulum never stops. My kids and I have been struggling with fresh ongoing health issues since the start of the year when we contracted that virus. It then came in for a second hit in July, which haven’t recovered from. Between chronic coughs requiring prescription medications, chronic fatigue and opportunistic germs that keep jumping on board because of compromised immune systems, it’s been a royal shitshow. With medical support services (the NHS) being abysmal. My family (I) also suffered another pregnancy loss. During the second bout of that virus, my baby’s heart stopped beating, and I gave birth four weeks later. We were (are) devastated.

Grief so intimate is a profound journey we carry with us throughout our time on the rock. Lives that were given a second chance coincided with the loss of my last baby, Averey. My family adopted a small flock of ex-commercial layers (Hens) from The British Hen Welfare Trust. I have shared little updates on their settling-in and shenanigans on social media. The ladies (our little Queens, as we call them. On account of naming them after Drag Queens: Jinkx Monsoon, Bimini bon boulash, Raja and Ginger Minj) are so very full of stories and have settled in as though they’ve always been part of the family. They are part of the clan. Some things are meant to be, and these Queens were never meant for slaughter.

Something about coming from 2021 into 2022 held promise and a thirst for change. More than a thirst, it was a drouth of dry agony. So many I know felt it—a need for rewiring, redirection, reinvention, or simply getting back on track. The year hasn’t quite lived up to the promise. Instead, it’s been more like treading water. Trying to stay afloat, and more, fighting to survive. I guess that’s life for the most part. An ongoing battle, with Jack-in-the-box obstacles springing forth at any given moment. Damn clowns. Tomorrow will be better.

The veil is thinning as the gears continue to cycle. There’s much reflection as we dare to lift the veil and step through the shadows, opening locked doors to visit with ghosts. This season welcomes the shadows, where the light and dark dance. It’s almost Samhain. Listen… whose voice can you hear calling from the ether?

Sweep the circle, burn the candles, lay out the feast, and set out coveted photographs and letters from the dead. They’ll be here soon. )O(

Clan Witch: Found Shadows

I’m sweeping the circle. The bones and remnants of word fusions are being expelled to make way for new spells. This collection is set for release in Hogmanay 2022. The preorder is live now.

Digital ARCs will be available well in advance of release, if you are a reviewer who’d love a first look at Clan Witch: Found Shadows, my mailbox is open for enquiries to be added to my priority early reader list.

Clan Witch: Found Shadows, releasing December 31st 2022

Synopsis (subject to tweaking)

Do readers buy poetry from undead poets?

There’s nothing quite like picking the prose and verses of the dead like vultures. There’s freedom in that unpicking, with no one alive to contest, at least not the mind which birthed them.

Sinclair consumes written and spoken as she does in its lyrical form, dressed in music and paint. Dancing to the beat or screaming into the voids of despair. Here, Sinclair presents Clan Witch: Found Shadows, no music, no paint, just words. A mix-tape of drabbles and anarchic free verse poetry..

The writer still lives. Perhaps you’ll read her unruly verse before the witch is dead.

Cover image from Christy Aldridge of Grim Poppy Designs

One for Sorrow

One for Sorrow © Natasha Sinclair

I’ve been seeing them for months in fours

Fanned feathers

Celestial blues, flanked with obsidian rainbows—

Four for a boy.

Three days ago,

Three didn’t show.

One flew solo—

One for sorrow.

Yesterday and today, the same—

One for sorrow.

Another silent death inside the chalice of life.

Mother of death—another passes beatless.

At least he will, soon.

It could be hours, days, weeks away.

One for sorrow.

He has no clock,

Only mine ticks on.

Until then, I wait.

Holding the silence within—

The growing void

Of his deathbed.

His roof collapsing from

The haematoma down.

I select a tree, a burial site,

A square I knitted nine years ago,

His teddy.

I consider the name that will be whispered when he slips from my body into my palms,

And my eyes drink his flesh in for the first and final time.

One for Sorrow.

I’m birthing death—

Not for the first time.

Interview with a Poet

Rafik Romdhani, author of The Crash of Verses

1: When did you first start writing?

At first, I didn’t know that inventing short songs and humming them in the fields of wheat and barley while stumbling behind my parents was what would, later on, develop into a form of writing. Writing has already been there in such funny songs I used to create out of the blue and sing in Tunisian spoken language (i.e. an amalgam of Arabic, French, and Barbarian) at the age of ten. I remember myself once beading words into smooth-running utterances and reciting them before a group of gleaners at tea time, which made everyone around express their admiration and admit that I am a gift to them to while away the tedious hours. Putting pen to paper and speaking my mind began later as I fell in love with Charles Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil, taught by Mustapha Dhaya, our teacher of French when I was a student at secondary school. I started writing short poems in French and Arabic between 1994 -1999. But I have indulged in penning and rhyming in English since 2000 because I found English a musical language that matches my yearning for singing. Words in English felt like ways into poeticizing life in a much more inspiring way. In this regard, the English language acts like an inspiring realm in itself, not to mention Nature and life experiences which have become not apart from living. Still, a kind of double living lived within the English language.

2: What are the primary themes in your work?

I am of the opinion that themes can’t be mapped out for or prepared beforehand. But I think they are born or at least are struggling to be born during the writing activity itself. The primary themes in my work include the question of time, Man’s existential worries, and the notion of love as a raison d’être. The theme is the underlying message that every artist or writer wants to convey. Themes can vary across poems which cover a wide variety of topics. Still, the primary ones are usually the common ones like the human versus the natural, Good versus Evil, the metaphysical versus the physical, and so on. The Crash of Verses teems with themes that overlap and intermingle in a way that it is difficult sometimes to privilege a theme over another.

3: Would you ever co-author a project? If so, who would your dream co-writing partner be?

Well, in truth, I am a believer in collaborations and working with other poets. Poets could inspire one another avowedly or unavowed. For instance, a poet’s word could be the seed of another’s poem. For the time being, I am co-authoring and working on a third collection with my fellow poetess, Genevieve Ray. The title of this anthology, made up of about 120 poems, is Breath of Distance. The work is still under scrutiny and hasn’t been published yet. I would always love to co-author new projects because I think working with another poet is enriching, and we can learn different styles and discover different ways of thinking and interpreting the world around us. My dream co-writing partner would be someone like Paul Muldoon, for example.

I crave Muldoon’s poetry because it is challenging enough to be interesting, and it is known for its use of paradox. Muldoon’s poems are playful but serious, elusive but direct, innovative but traditional. In addition, they push far beyond the surface level. To my way of thinking, Muldoon is an interesting and convincing poet who uses traditional verse forms such as the sonnet, ballad, and dramatic monologue but alters their length and basic structure and uses rhyme and meter in quite innovative ways. This implies that he looks into the old with new eyes, which interests me and pertains to me a lot.

4: If you could have a dinner party with five writers (living or dead), who would they be?

I am going to assume that all of them would love to have typically Tunisian Kuskus for dinner and that there would be no language barrier, and all the invitees would be able to communicate with each other and myself.

I would invite:

1. Edgar Allan Poe

2. Herbert Zbiginiew

3. Mahmoud Darwish

4. Paul Muldoon

5. Charles Baudelaire

These are amongst the most influential and interesting poets to me. If I were to invite another important figure for a mouth-watering dish of Kuskus, I would think of Czeslaw Milosz, a Polish-American poet, and I would ask him to join us. The reason I would invite them for dinner is that I am their biggest fan. They must have different definitions and conceptions of poetry.

A dinner party with the five of them will not only be entertaining but highly insightful. Perhaps on occasion like this one, I might be able to understand what poetry means to them and what inspired them to become such great poets. I guess the one who would like my poetry the most would be Edgar Allan Poe.

5: What book had the most significant impact on you (either as a reader or/and as a writer)?

I can remember the first book that had a significant impact on me. It was a book entitled Mother written by Maxime Gorky and which I came across in the secondary school library when I was a student at Raccada secondary school. It wasn’t easy and challenging at first though the version I read was in French. But after reading it twice and looking up many of the difficult words in the dictionary, I came to grips with the encrypted messages and deeper meanings there. Gorky’s mother is a book in which Paul, the main character, reads forbidden books discreetly, which is why I liked this novel a lot. Another reason behind my being affected by Mother is that it deals with the hardships of life under the yoke of which factory workers were straining.

I felt like those characters were combatting manual back-breaking works in a similar way to mine while working under the scorching sun in the fields. As far as poetry is concerned, I think that Charles Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil affected me the most as it paved and blazed the way for my writing career.

6: What is your favourite poem, and how did it affect you?

My favourite poem is Pessoa’s “The Tobacco Shop” (Tabacaria), in which the speaker finds himself torn between the abstractions of the mind on one hand and the mysteries of reality on the other. This is what I often feel whenever I try to idealize reality because everything at the end of the day is driven “down the road of nothing”, as Pessoa puts it. Reality itself does not seem to be authentic and concrete enough. Therefore, this poem made me rethink and re-imagine the outside world around me by re-inventing myself through the lens of poetry. After all, ‘the real’ is not necessarily what is not inside us.

7: Being multilingual, what is your favourite language to write in and why?

I am of the mindset that English is best for writing poetry because of its musicality, rich vocabulary, and easy-going flow. However, I think Arabic and French are better for spiritual and philosophical concepts. I love to write in English and think in English though I draw on writers who are well known in the French-speaking world and the Arabic-speaking one. This does not mean that I am not inspired by famous poets like the ones I have previously mentioned. English makes it easier for me to know which side my bread is buttered, as they say. It is the language that exceeds its circumstances, defeats distance and outgrows its native speakers.

8: If you could read your poetry anywhere in the world to an audience, where would you most like to go?

My dream literary destination where I would most like to read my poetry would be The UK. Who on earth doesn’t want to recite their poetry in a country where interesting literary figures like William Shakespeare, William Blake, John Keats, Alfred Tennyson, and John Donne were born. So, if I could read my poetry anywhere in the world to an audience, I would, without a doubt, choose the United Kingdom.

9: Does any of your pieces require research before or during the creation process? If so, how do you go about that?

In truth, all of the pieces I wrote are built upon a sudden incident or happening. Sometimes a word that I catch in a song or that my eyes set upon at first glance can develop into a poem. If there is any research required during the creation of the process, it is certainly meditation and deep reflection. I don’t think a poem requires research, apart from trying to put it in its historical or cultural context. But from my experience, I believe that the most difficult thing in the creation of imagination is the choice of a suitable title to go in tandem with what I wrote.

10: Being a teacher and writer, your schedule must be very demanding. What do you do to relax?

Well, I am a poet by passion and a teacher by profession, which is why I seem to be able to reconcile the two. I feel like teaching is harder and more demanding than writing poetry. I often do my utmost to be successful in both of them. To be a poet and a teacher simultaneously is like being trapped in a catch-22 situation. But the good thing with poetry is that it relaxes me from the two tiring missions ( writing and teaching). In other words, relaxation and relief could be in pressure itself because what I do to relax from writing poetry is paradoxically writing more poetry. That’s the same thing that refreshes my mind when I get burnt out from teaching twenty hours a week. Poetry is a safety valve.

11: How would you describe your work to a reader who hadn’t yet read you?

The Crash of Verses is a smorgasbord of poems with disparate but interrelated themes, wittingly or unwittingly. This collection is necessitated by experiences and circumstances which never occur in the form of poetry. So, there is a need to poeticize the world that surrounds us. The Crash of Verses could be understood as a journey of self-reinvention and rediscovery. It is a work of art that reports the conversations I had with Nature, with the desert and the sea, with the metaphysical and the invisible, with what sees through my eyes and speaks through my mind.

Each poem in this book has an architecture of its own, and it is a realm of its own that resembles a box of music in that it re-imagines and rethinks life in a new way. The entire collection is dotted with bright spots despite the deep sense of emptiness and loneliness here and there. It’s worth noting that The Crash of Verses connects with the past to make sense of the present. It goes beyond the superficiality of things and digs deep into Man’s inner workings of the mind, acting life as a reckoning mirror that exudes the smell of the soul.

12: What is your favourite piece from The Crash of Verses, and why?

In truth, I don’t think I can privilege one piece over the other ones simply because the question of what a poet’s favourite poem is from his collection sounds like asking a parent who his favourite son or daughter is. I fear the fall into unfairness towards the pieces in The Crash of Verses. But let me tell you that there are a few poems at least that I find the closest to me, namely “Life Goes on,” “Revolution,” “My Heart Was Cut in Two,” “The Genes of Poetry,” “Passing,” “A Descent on Chests,” “In My Country,” and “Poetic Blood”. Personally, it is too hard for me to identify a poem as a number one poem given that I indulged equally in ruminating about each idea and have given much of myself into each piece. Therefore selecting the best poem would be the task of the reader, I guess.

13: Finally, what are you working on now, and what can readers expect from you next?

For the time being, I am working on an anthology with my fellow-poetess Genevieve Ray, who is from Great Britain. She is a very kind and collaborative person.

Our styles are certainly different, but there are common themes in our work. Each one of us deals with them in his way. I hope we won’t change this anthology’s title, The Breath of Distance. I find it classy and very symbolic.

I also have a project in mind with Sinazo Crystal Ngxabani, a poetess from South Africa, and we talked about that a few days ago. We admire each other’s poetries, and we are glad that we represent our continent as two artists, one of whom is from South Africa and the other, i.e. myself is from North Africa (Tunisia). We got the ball rolling, and we started writing new poems for our project and sharing them. It’s a true pleasure and great honour for me to work with rising names in the world of poetry like Genevieve Ray and Zoe (Sinazo Crystal Ngxabani).

Woodworm

I visualise the tiny holes
Secretly infesting,
Weakening bones
Like woodworm.
I’m on one of their backs;
A voyeur
In inner space.
Woodworm cancer
Speckling the
Skeleton,
Spreading spots
Eroding this life’s vessel.
He says he’s fine
When he late
Returns,
Reluctant—
Like a child
Pushed towards
Their failure,
Their mistake,
Disgrace.
He says he’s fine
When he lies to me—
Face blue,
Faceless
Digital alphabets
Thrown together,
A string
For a stranger—
Loveless.
I keep making
Peace with the
Distance;
Goldfish swimming
In circles.
The no return
Excuses,
The rot in
My soul,
The hole
He created
With another falsity!
It’s ok.
I’ve made peace—
I lie to myself too.
The damnation
Of Genetics.

Dead Waltz

A ghost waltzed through me
When I slept deathly deep
Slumber disrupted
Taking advantage
As he did with my
Friendship, my loyalty
My trust, my body

A ghost waltzed through me
Like I was his to enter
No choice but surrender
And I welcomed his touch
Through disgust
Distaste, mistrust
Did I lay down the mat?

A ghost waltzed through me
Did I invite him inside?
An open window, door ajar
In a tongue unknown
A serenade degrade
Billows clouding smoke
Butt of some joke

A ghost waltzed through me
I played dead

Don’t move
Don’t whimper
Quiet heart
Don’t breathe
Don’t stir

A ghost waltzed through me
I lay still.

Writing and other such Beasts

A revisit to what’s on the cards for release and writing this year. First up, is the imminent release of my debut horror novella, Asylum Daughter; this psychological horror hits the shelves on May 8th! The date is significant to the story — I wonder if any of my readers will spot it!

See what one early reviewer had to say about the book over on Erica Robyn Reads.

I was also invited to interview with Candace Nola, mother of Uncomfortably Dark for her 2022 Women in Horror feature. We chat about writing, the horror industry, and I share a little insight about influences of the upcoming release. For those who want to have a gander at the chat, head over to Uncomfortably Dark.

Cover for Natasha Sinclair’s ‘Asylum Daughter’. Cover art by Don Noble, Rooster Republic Press.

Next up, I’m working on a collaboration with another fierce horror author, my sister from across the pond, the formidable Ruthann Jagge! This is special to me as we have shared many pages within the indie horror scene, and we seem to have similar draws to particular elements! When I read her debut novella, The New Girls’ Patient, I could’ve been blown over by a feather with the striking similarities in some of her delightful, diabolical plotting! Have you read it yet?

Ruthann Jagge, author of ‘The New Girls’ Patient’. Photo from author’s Instagram @ruthannjaggeauthor

Our blend of horror will be a magical one for readers! I would love to share a teaser, but my lips are sealed for the time being — maybe come Summer, I’ll spray some of that sweet, irresistible elixir your way. I’ve got the feeling that when our novel is done, we’ll be cooking up something else!

Another compilation of horror shorts will launch later this year. Some stories have been published, and some will be brand new to print! Given my chosen title, Incesticide (yes, the title is a homage to a particular grunge band), I’m aiming for the 14th December release! And, Yes, like the title and cover, the date continues the ‘nod’ — 30 years since that album of B-sides. I will include at least one short inspired by one of the album tracks — which one would you like to see? Feel free to drop me a message with your vote!

Cover for Natasha Sinclair’s ‘Incesticide’. Cover art by Natasha Sinclair, ‘Clan Witch’.

I am publishing an exquisite poetry collection, written by Rafik Romdhani, The Crash of Verses. The collection is up for preorder now and releases July 22nd! It’s no secret that I was reluctant to have this much responsibility for another writer’s work, but Rafik is a persuasive wordsmith! And I’m honoured to support another writer in sharing his talent with the world! I’ve read a couple of his pieces over on my YouTube channel. If you fancy getting a feel for his work (which I encourage you to do!), please hop on over to check those out. And, of course, preorder his book!

Cover wrap for Rafik Romdhani’s ‘A Crash of Verses’. Designed by Natasha Sinclair, ‘Clan Witch’.

I have another collaboration scheduled later in the year, with another force of indie horror energy, this one much closer to home, with KJK Publishing’s gaffer, author of Halloween Land (another novella you horror delinquents should read!), Kevin J. Kennedy — more on that when work is underway!

Kevin J. Kennedy, owner of KJK Publishing. Photo from author’s Instagram @kevinjkennedyauthor

Your Heaven is a Lie

A Poem

The poignant print
Has pressed itself
Upon my cerebrum
Sepia ink bleeding
The cells we share
Scream in anguish
Silenced, winded
Controlled by them
Another whisper
Her Faint voice 
Only heads his own.
Him
There’s always
A him
First under
Their skins
Like they belonged
To him
And each after
Many faces
The same demon
Chancers
Gypsies
Faux gentlemen
Had his way
Abusing bodies
Manipulating minds
Like no crime
Captive strangled
His God-given right
Blind eyes
Sightless
Mindless
The perverse
Protected
It’s the mad
Talking
No one hears
Gibberish
Gobbledygook
Drivel
Swept under
Bulging rug
Give it a wide-berth
The unstable
Weave weathers
Fraying weakening 
The boards
Beneath creak
Like her voice
Cognitive dissonance
Ignorant until
It’s too late…
Another coffin
How many now?
Hold hands
Ersatz repentance
Hypocrisy reigning
Sins of the
Self-righteous
Self-proclaimed 
Unchallenged patriarch
The worst of them
Self-made god(s)
Bitten tongues
My open eyes
See through
The shoddy charade
That he parades
With every dial
Every smile 
Clink of glass
The heart haemorrhages
In silent solitude
There’s no truce
With these
Truths
Your Heaven is
A lie and your
Hell awaits
When you
Fucking die.

LoveSick

Thrice fallen
Sickening ‘love’
Love because
There’s no
Other word.
Senseless unhinging;
The soul’s
Unwelcome apprentice
Staggering eclipsing
Penumbra of logic
Piercing passions
Affection infatuation
Desires yearning
For more than 
Mere skin.
Oh, the skin…
I can taste
Your salt
Remnant thoughts
Linger quiver
Each baptism 
Triggered by
Scent — drowning
Flooding my 
Nostrils and
Unsuspecting brain
As if
She were
Credulous.
That kiss
Staggering surprising
Rattling knees
The gliding
Purple satin
Caressing
Hardening nipples
His scent
Intoxication annihilation 
The thorn in my heart
Dousing my 
Spent body
Invading tuberous-spores
Washing winds
Of ‘love’
Over goose-bumped
Prickled skin
Soaking my
Soul in
Heady wine
Must touch
Every part
Of you
Feel you move
From the 
Inside
Sink teeth
Lick clean
The elixir
Of your
Delicious dermis
Worship at
Your voice
Wince,
Quiver,
Shiver
Melt with
Your touch
Deep dive
The waters
Of those
Eyes
Cliches spin
The broken
Record of
Human need
Mine
Greed for
Contact
Every inch
Of fabled
Chaos Chords
Intensely tethered
Holding me
Hostage
In bondage
Abundant
In my
Gullible heart
To the rest, stone.
Each of
You ferment
Within me
Blending a
Fine concoction
My own
Special cask.
Exclusive reclusive.
Did you
Know of
My love
Like that
Superseding rejection
Deflection, lies
Your love’s
Demise
How even
Now, and
At the
end of
Each of
Our times;
All time
I'd share
My deathbed
With All
Of you
Thrice over
As one
I'd welcome
Your wives
And embrace 
Them with 
The love
That’s always
Been more
Than I
Can handle
Coursing through
The nucleus 
Of every cell
I’d open
The damn
For your
Sweet loves
Rippling it 
Out; a
Tsunami blanket
Of eternity
In each
Of your
Arms of
Ages
Covered, devoured
The love
That never
Dies…
Except for
Those times
That mine
saw it
Vanish from 
Your eyes.
It still
Lives here…
The apparition
Of yours
To my
Widowed love
Caressing my
bones until
They are
Crumbs of
History
Dust on
The wind.
Unseen like
That word
Again…
Love.
I’ve opened 
My legs
Danced with 
Tongues
Split open
Veins
And my
(Death) bed
Would lay
Open for 
You to
Fill.
Welcome mat
Gormless Gullible
Obsessively loyal
Lovesick heart.

YouTube Readings

Playing with another platform

I’ve considered doing some reading videos for a while now but only recently began sharing a few online. So far, I have shared a handful of poetry and short stories over on YouTube. Only one is a reading of one of my pieces. The rest are shares of other writers work that I enjoy.
All are welcome to drop by, subscribe, share. Open to requests too, if you have a piece you’d like me to read, drop me a DM. I can’t guarantee I’ll do it or when, but I’ll be in touch nonetheless.