Author Archives: kate

The Queen of Naples, asked about her childhood home

While movement was still restricted in June 2020, Kate and the artist Jack Trewin began a second collaboration at a distance. The result, based on another poem from The Long Beds is an audio-video collage even more visually layered than Keepers of the States of Sleep and Wakefulness, their first joint venture which recently charmed a wide audience.

Inspired by Roddy Lumsden’s 2015 Poetry School classes on the Tempest, it imagines Shakespeare’s Miranda, now a Queen. She is revisiting childhood experiences long after being freed from the magical isolation (twelve years, another level of lockdown) that her father had created with the help of others he held captive.

Kate and Jack struck lucky in their picture research when they found that the ‘song’ of a piping bee transcribed in the early 17c treatise on bees by Reverend Charles Butler has been recorded by the choir of Little St Mary’s, Cambridge. And they were delighted to be permitted to use the solo on the soundtrack.

Woman of Letters

Carcanet Press recently asked Kate to record answers to five questions about her reading and writing habits. In this video she likens her own slow methods to growing – and pruning – fruit trees and reads from the sequence of poems about her grandmother Muriel, writer and broadcaster. Also in a blog entry for Carcanet, 15 July 2020, she reflects on the reluctance we have to recalling childhood once we are separated at a great distance by age, geography and circumstance.

Always surprised and slightly short changed to see the UK editions of poetry books first published in US ( e.g. Jorie Graham, Louise Gluck), how they vary in size and weight – smaller, slimmer, thinner paper – and give such different clues in their cover designs.

Andrew Latimer at Carcanet has finalised a new design for The Long Beds; this image was only for prepublication purposes. But I liked it. It reminded me of Joan Jonas’s Helen in Egypt: Lines in the Sand which she brought to Tate Modern in 2018.

Sadly died, as the saying goes, a victim of Coronavirus! On 22 March this year I suggested to Andrew that I would take a camera along the beach at Camber and get some less heavily walked-over shots of rippled sand and feet. But lock down the very next day put paid to that.

The Long Beds in its second coat of many colours will be available in bookshops on 30 July 2020. If you would like to preorder it with the friends and family discount code, drop Kate a line.

Keepers of the States of Sleep & Wakefulness, fragment from a Masque

Made during the second month of Covid-19 and launched on Youtube on May Day 2020, this is Kate’s audio recording of her poem inspired by and dedicated to NHS nurses who cared for her at an earlier time. Music and costume designs date from the original Masque of Queens, 1609, by Ben Jonson, lavishly designed for the Court of King James by Inigo Jones. The video montage and editing is the work of Jack Trewin. It was such a good long distance collaboration that they are considering making a second film before the summer is out.

Adding the Magpie

  

One of Kate’s many bird poems, originally selected for The Rialto, reappears freshly in the anthology Corvids and Others, crow family poems selected by Susan Watson for the South London bookseller, Crow on the Hill. The launch has been postponed and the shop is currently closed, although at the moment it is still possible to buy books online from https://booksellercrow.co.uk/.  In the meantime the pamphlet is still available from www.greatesthappiness.co.uk .

The frescoes described in Adding the Magpie are from the Villa of Livia, second half of the 1st century BC, now in the Museo Nazionale at the Palazzo Massimo, Rome.

Being heard AND seen

Dahlia Bengal Tiger

Four poems are currently appearing in print, two in Irish journals – thanks to the editors of Southword 37 and Poetry Ireland Review 128 – and two in the TLS.

The latest one to flower should also be available on the TLS podcast of 10 October. Apparently I may need to convert the car in which I will be travelling in Turkey into my recording studio! Although the poem is titled Turned-down it has got the thumbs up from Alan Jenkins and Thea Lenarduzzi who assembles the podcast. And besides dahlias, it features the old bed which is the leitmotif of The Long Beds, a second collection due from Carcanet in July 2020.

Reading to launch Riverine

takes place on 26 June 2019 with architects and architectural historians who contributed essays to the 2014 conference on Architecture and Rivers at the University of Kent and the subsequent publication titled Riverine (Routledge, 2018).

Kate’s poem which honours the three Strand or Waterloo Bridges built between 1816 and 1944 and draws attention to the role of women in the building of the third, experiences the riverscape – as Monet and, later, those working women did – at sunrise.

Riverine: Architecture and Rivers

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Gerald Adler and Manolo Guerci, the editors of this book published today, admired Waterloo Sunrise, poem in 6 parts, commissioned in 2017 for the Waterloo Festival, and asked if they could include it with its proem – introductory section – with a short essay entitled Light Over Water. Because the proem was simply meant to herald the first performance it doesn’t appear elsewhere. It seems a good moment to upload the proem for a wider audience!

When there was only water

When there was no stretch between the strand and Lower Marsh, 

no span, no bearer over water except a wiry waterman,

at dawn, perhaps, the senses tuned to river flow,

fish dance, bird oratorio, meddled mud and silt and weed,

faint strains of a kind of blue, notes made before this place was Waterloo.

But chances are today – however close we hug the bank, or high we stand mid-river,

however keen our watch, bird eyed, 

above the water flecking pearl and bottle green –

our senses won’t be primed for sunrise, 

we’ll be unready for its marvellous surprise.

On the bridge attention flicks from seated gull to sidling crow to hissing 176.

The city plays its engines loud, thumping on until a break –

the lifeboat’s motor cuts out coming into dock – silent passage – Look!

The sun is lifted from its oven, to be blown.

Red blob of glass, red bulb, balloon, it wobbles on a stem of light,

lets light trail down. Just as gold leaf is laid, brush tipped with grease, it shivers 

as it flattens on the river.

Threads of gold snag on the drying wings of cormorants, Egyptians angled on a boat.

A lorry passes with UNUSUAL in giant lettering, a giant tweet.

As if to emphasise that sunrise is.