Kate has been commissioned to write and record a new film-poem with Jack Trewin to help launch the 2021 Fingal Poetry Festival on 16 September. Watch now on Youtube, click on the Fingal Poetry Festival link. In it she celebrates windmills and other working buildings in the landscape. Despite the fact that they are often neglected after they become redundant, there is a gaunt magnetism about them. Fingal Poetry Festival takes place at Skerries where there are three remarkable mills, two in working order and a third, the Small Mill, once thatched and diminutive, said to have been built following the example of mills seen on the Crusades.
Recently she talked with Tim Relf for the magazine Country Life on the subject of writing on the countryside, about the abiding influence of early twentieth century poet and journalist Edward Thomas and the renewed interest, during lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, in poetry that observes and records farming and rural life. This issue will mark National Poetry Day which this year falls on October 1.
Poetry Review, the British quarterly, included a fantastic review of the book by Sarah-Jean Zubair in their Winter 2020 volume 110:4.
‘Haunting’, wrote one watcher of her film-poem “The Queen of Naples, asked about her Childhood Home“. New commissions for film-poems are in the pipeline, so too are opportunities to connect across site specific and cross-disciplinary networks with CollectIvel (linking music with English rivers) and in Dublin, Poetry at Skerries Mills (linking windmills and perhaps granaries, oast houses, and other tall structures in the landscape).
This year’s Waterloo Festival (on the theme of Respair) revisits the Festival of Britain (1951) a favourite subject of Kate’s. As a student at St Martin’s she cycled up and down the South Bank with her first mobile site specific sculpture that recalled the Skylon. So long ago that she doesn’t have a digital photo.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.