Monday, 30 November 2020

NEW!! Reveal: The exclusive limited edition of 'Mrs Death Misses Death' and my FRSL announcement


Good morning, 

How are you today?

I hope you're all ok. I hope you're safe and warm.

I have been keeping some secrets from you and biting my tongue online for weeks. I have some lovely booky news to share with you today. November was such a tough month for everyone so I'm delighted to look to December and finally have some good news and something exciting to share today. Thrilled to share this... Look!! Look!! Look!!

There's a new blonde in town. . . 

So happy to reveal this: This is the Exclusive Independent Bookshop Edition of Mrs Death Misses Death. This special hardback edition is signed and will have this gorgeous cream and gold cover designed by Gill Heeley, thank you Gill. I love the iconic design, I love the beautiful pattern on the endpapers and the font and soft touch feel of this.

As we all know, we need to boost traffic to local businesses. Our beautiful bookshops in our local communities need all of our support, especially right now in the run up to the busiest time of the year, so I hope this is one tiny incentive to use your indie and shop local this Xmas. 

The Independent Bookshop Edition will be sold exclusively in small bookshops. It can be pre-ordered from today at your local (or indeed any!) independent bookshops. 

For one example, if you are in my neighbourhood and around east London, you'll find the limited edition version of Mrs Death Misses Death at Pages of Hackney or Newham Bookshop

Support your indie bookshops!!

More big news: Today it has been announced that I have been made a Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature, FRSL. This is a great honour and a huge surprise. I'm a bit blown away by this to be honest. This list is amazing and features so many friends and writers I look up to and love and admire. This moment  feels like something that gangsters say, I have been made a fellow, I mean in my head I imagine this is a bit like Goodfellas but books, so Bookfellas. 

Happy 200th Birthday to the Royal Society of Literature. I am sad we cannot all be together to celebrate this birthday and party. Follow RSL on instagram and twitter to check out the amazing list and the work of all the other new fellows and to follow all the exciting news and announcements - Join in the celebration of 200 years of literature and fellowship all online!!


Lastly: The latest November episode of Roaring 20s Radio is now out! Find us on Soho Radio, Spotify and Apple and all your other podcast providers. We have been loving making this show in my kitchen during lockdown and this new episode is so warm and wonderful. We have great work from artists and writers such as Lovers Rock, Courttia Newland, Gwenno, Daniel Cockrill, Cat Hepburn, Sarah Manvel, Nina Simone, Charlotte Adigery, Edward Carey, Parliament, and many more. Plus Amah-Rose shares an exclusive and candid interview with artist Mahtab Hussain. We hope you're enjoying the art and culture, books and poetry, music and activism we bring to you from our bunker to yours. Time is flying! This is our 12th episode, Roaring 20's Radio is a year old now!!

Ok that's all the juicy booky secrets I'm allowed to share for today. More news soon. Thank you for following the Waiting For Godden blog and for all your support in these adventures in fierce and independent publishing and poetry. Happy full moon, Frost moon, Beaver Moon. Wishing you all safe and warm. Here's to a shift in energy, November was so hard, I wish for health and happiness for us all. Please stay safe, wash your hands, eat your greens and love each other xXsg


Tuesday, 17 November 2020

'Mrs Death Misses Death' Author Interview in The Bookseller + Andi Oliver & Idris Elba endorsements

“For a book about death, which it is, it is sombre and deeply moving, But also playful and exuberant ... Part of what makes Mrs Death Misses Death so original and exciting is Godden’s freewheeling from prose to poetry to non-fiction. There are accounts of the deaths of real people woven into the narrative: These real deaths that Mrs Death speaks of are those of people whose murders have been left unsolved or whose deaths were not seen as a priority.” Alice O'Keeffe, The Bookseller

Read more here: 

Just a quickie post today to say thank you to Alice O'Keeffe in The Bookseller for my first Bookseller interview and author profile this month. So generous and kind about my work and my intention in all of this, thank you Alice.

Thank you to the legendary Andi Oliver for your endorsement and for mentioning both 'Pessimism is for Lightweights - 13 Pieces of Courage and Resistance' and 'Mrs Death Misses Death' on the fabulous Sky Arts Book Club Live. Love this new show, awesome books and authors, insightful and inspiring conversations, such great book telly! We need more of this sort of thing, most especially in lockdown. 

Mrs Death Misses Death is going to print any day now. There are all sorts of plots and plans, decisions and bookings are being made. My phone is a hive of busy bees buzzing, so much work is happening behind the scenes right now, thanks to all the Canongate team, you're amazing. 

All is left to say is a huge thank you to my heroes Alan Moore, Nikesh Shukla, Irenosen Okojie, John Higgs, Courttia Newland and Idris Elba for your stunning book blurbs and quotes. THIS Idris Elba quote came in yesterday, I admit I danced in my kitchen a bit, so brilliant, thank you Idris. I'm humbled and excited, I so look forward to seeing and sharing the beautiful finished hardback books soon. 

Ok lovelies, thanks for following these adventures. 
More soon, please take care, read books and play safe, sgxx

Mrs Death Misses Death

debut novel is now available to pre-order 
order now from your  local indie bookshops,
plus all Waterstones, Amazon, etcetera 
Read books! Stay safe and sound! 

Monday, 9 November 2020

Poetry: 'Birds' New spoken word collaboration to raise funds for Black Minds Matter UK



a new release to support

Black Minds Matter UK

Birds is a collaboration between the renowned Tongue Fu collective and three leading poets: Salena Godden, Vanessa Kisuule, and Hollie McNishThe single will be released by Nymphs & Thugs – the UK’s leading spoken word record label. It will be available to stream or download from Friday 13 November, with 100% of all profits being donated to Black Minds Matter UK

The artwork for Birds is this stunning starling illustration by Leeds-based artist Saifur Rehmaan Manzoor-Khan - check out all his brilliant work here

Black Minds Matter UK’s mission is to connect Black individuals and families with free mental health services – by professional Black therapists to support their mental health. To make this happen, they want to make mental health topics more relevant and accessible for all Black people in the UK, removing the stigma and remodelling the services to be relevant for the Black community.

Olivia Weigel, Marketing Manager at BMM UK, said: We're extremely excited to be able to collaborate with Tongue Fu and three incredible poets for this beautiful piece Birds which will help us to raise funds at Black Minds Matter. The poem manages to articulate the many difficult and unfamiliar emotions that we have all experienced in some way this year; giving us a sense of comfort in this shared experience and hope for brighter days ahead.

Salena Godden, one of the featured poets, said: “2020 has been a time of communal mourning and grief and anxiety. The poem we have written seems to underpin all of that, and it’s an honour to be releasing it in support of BMM UK.

The single will be released on the Nymphs & Thugs Bandcamp site on Friday 13 November 2020 and will be exclusively available on Bandcamp until the New Year. It will be priced at £5, with the option to pay more, and a download of the music video will be included.

The video of the track will receive its world première as part of a Nymphs & Thugs x Tongue Fu event, which will be streamed live on Facebook this Thursday (12 November) from 8-9.30pm UK time. We’re over the moon to have live performances from Amyra León and Chris Redmond as part of the event, which will be available to view on both the Nymphs & Thugs and Tongue Fu pages.

Last month Rough Trade Books published Emily Cotman's translation of 'Pessimism is for Lightweights' in Old English as a collectable broadside. You can find this in the Rough Trade Books shop now.  

In an act of unity we are inviting people from all over the world to translate ‘Pessimism is for Lightweights’ into  their chosen language. If you fancy giving it a go, please head to the Rough Trade Books Extra Curricular page where you can find the poem as it is displayed at its residency at The People’s History Museum, Manchester. We’d especially love it if you could send in a short video of yourself reading your translation.

If you go to Rough Trade Book - instagram you can meet some of our international friends, so far we have the poem translated in Russian, Welsh, Norweigan, Turkish, Polish and so many more voices on the way ... I love this, thank you. 

Love will conquer hate in any language! 

Thank you Xxsg

Finally, talking of work in translation my poem “Every disaster movie begins with the government ignoring a scientist” was published in Poland this week. Thanks to you Bartosz Wojcik and Pismo Magazine, check them out on instagram @magazynpismo  

Read more here:

The live performance of this poem “Every disaster movie begins with the government ignoring a scientist” features on ‘The Lockdown EP’ one of 5 poems released May 2020 with @nymphsandthugs - Thanks and love to all who have downloaded the EP since May, as we continue into this 2nd lockdown we are still giving 50% profits to nurses, to #NHS #nhsstaff + @nhscharitiestogether  



I have a new piece titled ‘chapter’ published this month in the latest 
Wildness Literary Journal @platypuspress -
I’m honoured to have a piece published here for the first time. 
I've been reading this and loved discovering new work and this selection. 
Really great way to start the day. Highly recommend.


Friday, 30 October 2020

Blog: Happy Halloween! Mrs Death Misses Death available for pre-order now


Hello! How are you?  

Happy Halloween! Happy Samhain! Dia de los Muertos!

I haven't blogged for a while. I hope you are all ok.  

As autumn leaves fall and all is yellow and orange, saffron and amber, I have been keeping my head down and writing. I am working on two commissions, a piece on black feminist author Zora Neale Hurston and another on the punk legend Poly Styrene - I can reveal more about this new work when it is published. 

This week I was honoured to take part in a conversation celebrating the life and work of Zora, thanks to Black Girls Book Club and Jackie Kay and The Royal Society of Literature and The British Library. It was immense and exciting to chat and zoom with you all and thanks to all who tuned in. 

It is good to have the distraction. As the months of lockdown pass it is increasingly hard work to stay positive, to keep the head in the good place, a place of creativity and productivity, instead of a place of reaction and anger and outrage and grief. Each day more evidence of ineptitude and failure from our elected leaders. Books, reading and writing is keeping me sane. Each morning I seek good news and the good in the world. And may all the Gods and Goddesses protect Marcus Rashford. Solidarity with all who are speaking up and fighting for civil rights and human rights and the freedom to live in peace and love in peace. 

Just a short blog this month from my bunker to share some books news and say thank you to all who have reviewed and preordered my debut novel. I'm delighted to discover my book is featured as a book of the month on Netgalley this week. If you are a member of book blogger you'll find me there now, it looks like this... 

'Mrs Death Misses Death' also featured in The Bookseller as a Fiction Editors Choice. Alice O'Keeffe described the book as “an original, exuberant novel, freewheeling from prose to poetry to non fiction, truly one of a kind.” Thank you Alice!

And lastly, 'Mrs Death Misses Death' popped up and appeared in this piece about witches, ghosts and feminism in horror fiction - Amazing, amazing, amazing, thank you! Read the rest of this piece at Penguin

"In 2021, poet Salena Godden will introduce us to Death herself, “a homeless black beggar-woman with knotty natty hair”, who tells stories of murdered women lost to history in Mrs Death Misses Death."

This autumn I'm focussing on the 'Mrs Death Misses Death' audiobook. I'm practising getting the narrator voice of Mrs Death right. Experimenting with her eerie enchantment, her rich, smoky, otherworldly presence. I am enjoying this part of the creative process.  Here's some action shots taken by my editor Hannah Knowles from the first studio session from earlier this month...

We publish on the full Wolf moon, January 28th 2021 with Canongate

This is a lovely moony serendipity, that the book is published on that full moon, the full Wolf Moon. I know my characters Wolf and Mrs Death would like this very much, it is as if they planned it.

You can preorder the book now, support local business and find Mrs Death at your favourite neighbourhood bookshops, it is also available at Waterstones and on the high street. For the record, I take none of this for granted. For decades I have got so used to dragging a box of books up and down the country and jumping on trains going from gig to gig to sell my books out of a battered old suitcase. 

I am longing to perform again: the fizz and excitement of waiting behind the black curtain backstage. The clicking sound of my silver boot heels walking across the hollow stage floor of a big theatre. The hot lights on my face, squinting to see you all, then holding the microphone tight and waiting for hush and saying ‘hello my name is Salena, I have a new poem I want to share with you today’. Then the rustle of a page, the stomach ache, the nerves, the vibration of your laughter and the magic of sharing an hour of hope and human connection. 

I am missing all of you and all of this. I miss my friends, all the poets and the writers, shouting in crowded pubs, theatres and festivals. I miss the travel and mischief. I am missing doing my job, doing what I know, what I do best and what I love. I even miss dragging that battered heavy suitcase of stage outfits and books on and off over crowded trains with raging anxiety and period cramps and a killer hangover and no money for a tea.. 

If this was normal times I'd be gigging with the book by now and rehearsing Mrs Death's voice by reading it that way, testing it on live audiences, and with best friends and rum at the kitchen table after shows. But here we are, trying to be creative and productive, to make art, to make noise, to speak up for injustice, to help others, to come from a place of love, here and now, using what we can and all we have. 

Viva the artists! Viva the poets! Viva the scientists! Viva the key workers and nurses and doctors! Viva the hope punks! Viva the truth seekers! Viva!

Here's the 2nd lockdown. I hope you are ok. I hope you remember to count your blessings each day, to nourish your soul, to stay healthy, and can do all you can to keep you and yours safe and sound. I'm staying home and in hibernating mode. Most days I'm writing and sharing work and any good news I can find online, and crying and laughing with you all inside this buzz of the electric pulse of the sticky interwebs. In my dream world, you and me, we are having the best and most vivid of times too. Lockdown dreams are where I travel and fly and see you all...

Happy full Hunter moon this weekend - It must be good to have a fat full moon energy on a Halloween weekend - All Hallows Eve, All Saints, Day of the Dead. Light your candles, burn sage, take salt, add clove, a sip of moon water, open your heart, raise your glass, sing and dance, pray and heal, cast your intentions, ask the moon nicely for light in the darkness, for good things, the best things, the things we need and must achieve to survive,

With love, grief and fury 



Read books! Stay safe! Stay sound!

We are a year old now! 
Thank you to everybody that has been tuned into Roaring 20s Radio  
Find our latest shows as podcasts in all of the usual places..

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Pessimism is for Lightweights: Happy International Translation Day + Happy National Poetry Day


Happy International 

Translation Day & 

Happy National Poetry Day!

I'm thrilled to share this new piece of magic


Translated into old English by Emily Cotman


To celebrate International Translation Day and bring something magic and new to National Poetry Day 2020, Rough  Trade Books have printed this broadside of a wonderful Olde English translation of ‘Pessimism is for Lightweights.

Translation is an essential literary endeavour — a means of access into the language, thinking and stories of other cultures, histories and experiences. We believe the act of translation can be a radical rejection of a homogenous literary culture. 

 Enjoy the BBC version on YouTube

This broadside is a gorgeous and collectable piece of work, it features footnotes on how the words and shapes were made. 

The brilliant translation was provided by Emily Cotman, an artist who uses translation as a medium to invoke a more human experience of history. Or, as Emily puts it, “maybe I just want to sing karaoke with my ancestors.” 

Emily holds a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from The Ohio State University, and lives gratefully with her family on Gayogoho:no land.

Emily first encountered Salena’s poem earlier this year, when she saw it being shared on social media. She says “This poem is a healing thing, and given the history of Watling Street (Wæcelinga Stræt), I supposed that an Old English translation might allow that healing to touch new times and spaces.” 

Any purchase of the 'Pessimism is for Lightweights: 13 Pieces of Courage and Resistance' collection from the RTB website from today onwards will include this beautiful translation as an added bonus!! How amazing is that!

Furthermore - In an act of trying to come together and create some small attempt at unity on this planet we’re inviting people from all over the world to translate ‘Pessimism is for Lightweights’ into your chosen language. 

If you fancy giving it a go, please head to the Rough Trade Books Extra Curricular page where you can find the poem as it is displayed at its home at The People’s History Museum, Manchester. We’d especially love it if you could send in a short video of yourself reading your translation...


Caught By The River


Summer 2017: John Higgs commissions the poem to be used in a podcast centred around the book Watling Street. The first live performance of the poem takes place at the Kentish Town Forum at a rally for Jeremy Corbyn. 

January 2018: The poem is erected outside the Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol and later on in the same month the poem was read at the Women’s March, Downing Street

March 2018: The poem was read at Trafalgar Square, March 4 Women, introduced by Sue Perkins: Watch on YouTube…

June 2018: The poem is published: Pessismism is for Lightweights: 13 Pieces of Courage and Resistance by Rough Trade Books as part of their first series with a launch event to a packed-out crowd at bookshop Shakespeare and Co in Paris.

September 2018:  Nymphs and Thugs release the poem on an EP, Live at Byline Festival -

October 2018: Special-edition letterpress prints of the poem for National Poetry Day go on sale, the poem is now a visual framed object in people’s homes and offices. The poem is read at the Arnolfini and set to music with Tongue Fu, to a standing ovation. Watch on YouTube…

December 2018: The pamphlet Pessimism is for Lightweights: 13 Pieces of Courage and Resistance features in the Rough Trade Shops Top 10 Books of the Year.

April 2019: The poem is read at the first Extinction Rebellion rallies in Bristol and London's Parliament Square as well as Desperate Literature Bookshop in Madrid.

May 2019: The pamphlet Pessimism is for Lightweights: 13 Pieces of Courage and Resistance has a 'special mention' in the Saboteur awards.

Summer 2019: The poem continues to be read throughout the summer at various festivals including Faversham Literary Festival, Green Gathering, Port Eliot, Edinburgh Intl Book Festival, Byline Festival, Sea Change, and is featured in various magazines, newspapers, blogs and websites as well as radio shows including Soho Radio, Resonance and BBC’s Poetry Please, Jonathan Ross, Clive Anderson, The Verb.

January 2020: The poem features on BBC Radio 3 Friday poem, using the recording from The Verb.

February 2020: The poem is erected at People’s History Museum in Manchester as a permanent display for their 10th Anniversary.

September 2020: The poem is translated into Old English by Emily Cotman which kick-starts a campaign to translate the poem into as many languages as possible...

People's History Museum, Manchester 

Opened on September 1st 2020 

#PessimismisforLightweights is on permanent display

You'll find signed books and posters in the shop!

Register to visit the museum: