In the poems of Beyond Sarah Wardle explores a world of hope beyond the despair she experienced because of mental ill health and its knock-on effects of lack of motivation, and of isolation and loneliness. In the course of this book, we see her rebuild her life from an outlook of negativity and despair to a more included and inclusive view of the world. Beyond narrates her journey out of depression to a place where she finds renewed spirit and passion in relationships and the world.
As in her previous collections, Fields Away, Score! and A Knowable World, the setting of many of these poems is London. The city becomes a symbol of the harsh realities of life and yet also the human love and compassion we can experience in everyday responses. Ultimately the poems of Beyond take the reader on a spiritual journey from a negative atheism to a positive humanism and the hope of connectedness even in a godless world. The natural world of the seasons and weather, set against urban grit and realism, of human solitude, interaction and love, helps her on her way as she charts a course out of the doldrums beyond passivity and self-pity to renewed effort, well-being and trust in the universe and life.
‘Sarah Wardle writes with great humanity and makes A Knowable World of the indignity, frustrations and fear of acute episodes of mental illness. That’s how she manages to get her readers to empathise with all those in the community, both in and out of hospital, who live with the stigma of madness’ – Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger.
'Sarah Wardle's previous collection, Score!, took readers on an exuberant tour of Tottenham Hotspur FC, where she spent time as writer-in-residence. The change of tenor in A Knowable World, which charts the reel and plunge of the year she spent in a psychiatric facility receiving treatment for bipolar disorder, could hardly be more pronounced. These are, necessarily, poems of deep introspection, in which manic episodes, escape attempts and the baffling helplessness of incarceration are examined with agonised honesty... these are convincing poems, delivered with a tight formality that echoes the strictures under which Wardle found herself, while at the same time providing her with a means of control over a terrifyingly ungovernable situation' - Sarah Crown, Guardian.