A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache

“The poems in A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache will make you re-think your relationship with pizza, garlic bread and your mobile phone. These sharp, sad and wry observations – on the reality of living with mental illness and disability, the heartbreak of the everyday, and perseverance despite everything – capture what it is to be twenty-something, in love, and healing through food. This is an exciting debut pamphlet from a new and honest voice.” Jenna Clake

“In her debut pamphlet, Charley Barnes examines the reality of heartbreak and its different forms, highlighting how aspects of modern society can play – often brutally – on our insecurities: the wish to be prettier, more popular, more lovable. These poems deftly explore the bitter, lasting sting of loss and how it shapes us. Yet there is also the tenderness of possibility at play – a sweetness to offset the sharpness encountered by a young woman trying to navigate her way; a knowing, self-deprecating humour that shines through, even in dark experiences. There is a wisdom of the importance of nurturing here, accompanied by the will that, whatever happens, ‘you have to keep going, don’t you?’ ('The lie my mum told me').” Claire Walker

A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache is very quirky yet very full-blooded.

ISBN: 978-1-9998444-4-8
36 pages

R.R.P. £6.50

A sample poem can be enjoyed below.

BUY a copy of A Z-Hearted Guide to Heartache now using the paypal link below.

A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache (including P&P)
N.B. Any international customs/duty charges are the buyer's responsibility.

My therapist says...

I tell my therapist that I don’t want to be
the sort of person who prefixes sentences with:
“My therapist says...”

My therapist says that’s an irrational concern.

My therapist tells me that you’ve told her that I’m writing
on the walls again: hurried hieroglyphics
scribbled around the house. I tell my therapist
how telling the assumption is that if you can’t
understand something it must be foreign.
This worsens your ignorance; it doesn’t excuse it.

I tell my therapist that when I’m talking to you, I start
sentences with ‘My therapist says’ to legitimise my claims.
My therapist asks whether I think that’s a sensible thing
to be doing to my partner. And I tell my therapist that it is
ambiguous, but also the only way I can get anything done. 

When my therapist asks why I’m writing on the walls again,
I tell my therapist in a level tone:
“There are important things that I need to write down.”


“Charley Barnes has created an unapologetic collection of poetry with rare strong direction, taking the reader in hand through the relatable and raw emotions of heartbreak. Charley creates a connection to the reader with her concise word play and detailed examinations of the little things in life. Poems bloom while traveling through sweet and sour observations, exploring disability, mental illness, and insecurities of modern life…”

Charlotte Begg, Eye Flash Poetry, full review here

"As a debut poetry pamphlet Charley Barnes’s A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache does what so many other collections and pamphlets fail to do: Barnes does an amazing job of creating flow from one poem to the next. In doing so, she takes us on a journey as the voice behind the poems first breaks down and then makes sense of various sources of heartache..."

Steph Mantle, Neon Books, full review here

"...scenarios that are universally recognisable. The poems lack self-pity and display a wry humour. They show compassion and capture a contemporary twenty-something navigating her start in life."

Emma Lee, full review here

"Written with love, honesty, and a hint of frustration at times, A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache will take you from one end of the emotional spectrum and back again... A brilliant collection and I'm looking forward to more from Charley Barnes in the future!"

Daniel Burton, The Writing Dragon, full review here

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