Jack Trewin and I are delighted with our first film festival selection. ” As Windmills Did” ( originally for the Fingal Poetry Festival 2021) has been selected for the new Danish festival, Uninhabited, which runs in June 2022 in Copenhagen.
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.
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.
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.
The London Magazine has republished online the first poem Kate published in a literary magazine. It presently shares a page with poems also first published in The London Magazine by Keats and Ted Hughes.
‘At the Root of the Wind is Strife (according to Empedocles)’ has been Highly Commended in The Observances and will appear in the 2016 Forward Prize Anthology to be published in September 2015.
It’s not every day the river
offers up a bucket but here’s a pail,
pale blue. For an hour we fill it
with the river’s clutter, handles, pipes,
blue and white china, tumbled
glass, a cap badge.
Loaded, and we stink of mud, we turn to go
back along the beach but the beach has gone.
The tide’s sneaked up behind a bend
close by us, slip-slapping on the river-wall.
It snaps at your red boots,
and since you are a metre tall,
its hunger makes me also feel small, endangered,
startled as an animal, driven to scale
the weed-hung wall.
You swing yourself over the parapet
and pointing to the bucket in displeasure,
chatter like a marmoset. I have it, yes,
but to follow you and bring it too
I’ve jettisoned the best
part of your treasure.
Published in the Times Literary Supplement on 12 February, this is one of three poems from The Observances to catch the light of day just before the book is out.
The Rialto 82, due early Spring 2015, will include ‘Every Book is a Long Walk’ under the influence of Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks.