Saturday, 30 April 2016

Poetry Never Fails Unlike my Mother's Cooking....

I've been having a crisis of writing these last few months.

It's been a time of word barrenness due to high stress and balls of anxiety nestling in my belly. This is not unusual I expect... Graham Greene famously used dream journaling as a way to move through his creative blockages.

I use napping. Afternoon snoozes, windows flung wide open to the smells and scents of burgeoning Spring trees ripe with underground life. What better metaphor for that poem that you know is biding its time. The words still shyly waiting in the corner of school halls waiting to be asked to dance. Each one beautiful, perfect but not yet noticed.

I haven't written a decent poem in quite a while. And I know they've been there. They skulk and shift in my mind. And sometimes I get a glimpse of them smiling patiently.

So when I woke up this still-light evening, Beltane Eve, still groggy from that kind of nap you're not even sure you've had - just a soggy pillow as evidence that you did, indeed, sleep. And a first line was waiting for me, I had that profound sense of relief you feel when you finally get home after a long time away. That feeling of sinking into a lover's arms who knows you - REALLY knows you.

So here she is. I love it when my mum visits me in my writing. It's never an affront and always a wonderful welcome flash of recognition. My childhood memories are few and hazy so when one reaches out to meet me halfway, it feels so right...

My mum would put a whole tin
of baked beans in her cottage pie -
Fry off the mince in lard, add onions,
never garlic, and maybe, if a special dinner,
a freshly opened packet of Colmans
seasoning entitled 'Cottage Pie’,
sprinkled with intention.
She had a deep pyrex dish kept especially,
(although occasionally it was used for roast potatoes,
that never worked - she never learned that the secret
of decent, crispy on the outside, fluffy in the middle,
roasted potatoes, is a single layer).
She spooned in her mincey bean concoction
using the same tablespoon I now have in my drawer.
On top, the mashed potato, not creamy
but skimmed milk lumpy and if the week’s diet had gone well
a grated thin scatter of red leicester.
At 4.30, we sat down, she, me and my sister,
just us three, awkwardly spaced at the bench set.
Low fat gravy pre-whisked in a plastic jug
gluggled over our nursery tea.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Survivor of Christmas here :-D

I do love Christmas. I don't mean the over-full present-buying frenzy that takes over even the least materialistic of us. I mean the intention of relaxation, love full  days with those we cherish. And want to spend time with. For many of us duty has to take precedence of course, at least for a little while over the season and there's nothing wrong with that. After all this isn't a season which purports to be selfish. And surely often the giving of our time even to those we'd rather not is all part of the parcel, no matter how it's wrapped.

I'm lucky I do get to spend real time with lovely loving people and for that I'm very grateful. This poem came out of a beginning about being stretched thin by others' expectations and became a poem (as all mine seem to at the moment) about love. 

I was stretched, 
like gum pulled thin,
two thumbs pressed
at either end
of a chewed up piece
and pulled until a string formed
between two opposing wills.
The taut fragile line
folded up, 
slung low under a full belly
and an even fuller moon.

You pulled me apart,
snapped past my elastic limit,
in a night drenched garden
under an alcove built especially for two.

Us two, in fact -
you with your hollow rimmed edge 
and me,
exploring what your mind meant 
when it spoke of love.

For your frilly words filled a tiny pocket
in the smallest part of my heart
and as my blood pulsed through it, 
it whispered of a start.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

The Darkest Day

Just a quick post today as I wander out into the darkest night to enjoy some yule mulled wine on the streets of Totnes. 

Wishing you all a light filled season whatever your religious beliefs or lack thereof. All I really wish for this time of year is a ceasefire to the fighting and for us all to live in a safer, fairer more sustainable way. Here's a poem to ponder as I think, inevitably, on this darkest day of fear, illusions and shadows. 

Merry solstice to all xxx
Much love Kate x

On a pivot point
we spin, reaching
higher, eyes wider,
stretched to understand
that somehow there’s a plan,
a fundamental place
to safely land.
From the darkest well
we gaze on stars,
as the moon travels past,
taking with it night
after night, and replacing
with light, recycling
our wishes for a home in a jar.
Still we spin, silently weaving
fragile futures, placing coins
in boxes, pretending that
a prosperous spring will protect,
that all is not lost. A cynic once said
that optimism is born of fear,
in this darkest day of the year.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015


So, I'm reaching the end of 2015 with clenched teeth in a permanent smile and a chest full of deliciousness. It sometimes feels that love such as is flowing through me these days is too good for me. Even though I know secretly that I'll embrace it because when I feel it I can let if flow out of me and touch everyone I connect with. If that feeling is even a tiny bit contagious then let it come...

It also means that I'm feeling everything to the max at the moment. Which is no bad thing for a poet and writer, but does mean that everyday living can be game of emotion tennis... volleying each ball as it enters my side of the court. 

Yesterday I visited my mother's house for the last time. She died 19 years ago and since then my sister and I have been kind of stuck in limbo. My mother's new husband (only a year into marriage) was allowed to live in our family home until he saw fit to leave. This year he died and the home where we grew up, became ours again. Back in June when I first entered it again, it felt like all trace of her (and my dad) who died 7 years before her, was gone. Her husband had chucked away all that was hers and had left the house an empty shell. I felt nothing but sadness that he'd treated her, in the end, with so little respect. So, fast forward six months to now, and the house sale finally going through. I stepped back in again and while standing in the kitchen I was bombarded by memories. Mostly of our family christmases when my dad was alive, that year after year we celebrated in the tiny kitchen. 

It felt good to have some glimpses again of a past which did have some happiness infused within them. It gave me, this empath, a pathway to start a different type of grieving process... Here's a poem that is the  beginning, I think, of something bigger.

They say the dead
leave fragments
but they’re wrong.
What’s left is visuals
sunk in shadows. 
Spits of sound appear and
with each slight turn of head,
glimpses of light
and the smell of bleach.
They say they leave
pain and agony
but they’re wrong.
What’s left is a room
stuffed to the rafters
with laughter infused
with the cheapest sherry,
newly papered walls
fresh and ready for Christmas.
Each year, a dusty tree
extracted from the downstairs cupboard,
silverfish shaken
from its wire branches. 
And she, bending each arm
to make a tree-like shaped thing,
covered in no time
with bits and bobs pulled out of school bags
year after year with a flourish.
They say the dead
leave fragments,
and if they mean love
that inflates like a balloon
expanding your heart
until it bursts out of your eyes,
they are half right.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Poetry Schmoetry

Busy doing stuff.
So, once a year blogposts seem to be the order of the day *ahem* year... How could I let a year go by without updating, especially as I'm pretty sure I've written about a million poems in that space of time. And probably without too much exaggeration.

Poetry as always has been a good friend to me. It's always a way for me to access, reassess and make sense of my emotions. It also helps me with getting my thoughts in order.

An old friend used to say that poetry is the merging of the technical and the emotional. That definition works for me in many ways. Not least because for me it's a process that allows me to attempt to make sense of feelings and take them to a brain level by choosing and fitting that feeling into words... Sometimes it helps. sometimes it diminishes the feeling which can be helpful in some circumstances, but mostly it puts it into another perspective which can be really helpful.

In September I embarked on a Facebook challenge to post a poem a day onto a challenge page. I didn't miss too many days - even if I did cheat a bit by occasionally posting an edited version of an old poem (so spank me)....

Here's a couple of the new non-cheating ones:

Simplicity, he said,
Makes deeper seas
In which we can swim.
Complexity, she said,
Warms the water,
Wards off goosebumps.
Clarity, he said,
Means bigger fish
Follow the boat.
Obscurity, she said,
Makes them swim
Right into the net.

You can borrow my body
I have no need of her today.
Landscaped lawns
Preened and weeded
With a little wild corner 
Set aside for the fairies.
Sunshine makes shadows 
As readily as trees.
You can have me today 
From my ears to my knees.

Swallows circle
in autumn air
as thin as gossamer 
and yet as swollen
as this gilded lily
who awaits your command.
They will fly south soon
as sure as this next hour
will swoop into another, 
bringing me back
to circle over
this ploughed field. 
You let me go
and therefore
I came back. 

I think it might be time for another poetry challenge... any ideas?

Saturday, 18 October 2014

It's been a while...

Hey you,
I've been pretty busy the last few months, both physically and mentally; lots of aliveness and along with that, lots of thinking, going on.
I've been teaching my own devised short story writing course; Totnes Writers' Playshop , which I'm loving so much. Plus finishing off the sequel to Dark Sleepers & writing another short story to sell. I'm also looking into funding to run a workshop in Exeter with Dan Metcalf friend and writer.
But I haven't stopped writing the poems - they've been churning out of me most days. Currently, I'm into week 4 of my MA poetry course, which has been a revelation, and I think, it's taken even my meagre words to a whole new level.

I'll share one that came out of an exercise on Wednesday that looked at traces left behind. Showing presence in absense...

Brushing cake crumbs
from clothes
into dead ash,
the bare warm seat
still sighs
sunken like tired eyes,
still stinging from your scent
as it clings to molecules
not yet homed.

Clustered round the half-empty
glass, or to you half-full, 
are remnants,
skin-cells, a golden hair
or two.
Two sticky rings
from clumsy coffee cups.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014


Good evening poet people.

I pushed out a poem tonight while pondering why often we push through our best instincts and alarm bells, and continue down a dark path. I thought about the nature of a fairytale, how the hero or heroine must be tested, and through that, valuable lessons are learned.

For me, it's often been the urge or need to feel alive, to shave off my corners and be new. Or a way into a place where I can use experience in my writing. In that way, I suppose, I'm a method writer. I must feel it to write it.

Most of all, I thought about this life, this drama and me. I thought about what it means to me to lose control and throw myself into the fast flowing stream. What it might mean if I did just that.


I must follow this silver slipway
in my hooded cloak
to the full moon through
the darkening forest.

It could be a forgone conclusion
that each twist will lead
to a rotten red apple core.
But I must know for sure.

Deeper I will go
to the candy-covered house.
It can have no charms on me,
not if I know
there's a witch within.

I can refuse to cage my brother.
I can refuse to stoke her fire.

And when she turns to bite, I'll run.

For I've left white pebbles
trailing my way home
by moonlight.