Category Archives: Poems

Riverine: Architecture and Rivers

IMG_1400 2Gerald 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.


Home, first published poem reappears

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.

Two poems from Aldeburgh

Published in New Walk 11, Winter 2015, Kate has two poems about watching the no mans’ land between the sea edge and Crag Path. There is also an interesting survey of what experienced poets have to say about their first collection, looking back.

Forward Prize

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.

Beachcombing at Bermondsey


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.


Longest Day

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.

Against This Light

This poem appears in the forthcoming issue of Ambit, January 2015.

It is based on a tiny self-portrait by Leon Cogniet, newly arrived at the Villa Medici in Rome on a scholarship, reading the first letter from home. The painting is in Cleveland Museum of Art and can be found if you google.  Cogniet later became director of the Ecole de Beaux Arts, the most prestigious French art school, and encouraged his sister Marie Amelie to head a teaching studio where women might also train as figurative artists, learning to draw from the life model as men were allowed to do.

Adding the Magpie

Rialto-79-cover-PRESS-1-211x300One of a series of bird poems, ‘Adding the Magpie’ is included in The Rialto number 79 Winter 2014, wet winter as the Editor calls it. This handsome cover, “Boar and Hoopoe” by Mark Hearld, is reproduced with the permission of artist and the printers, www.stjude’

New Poems in print in 2014

Kate’s poem ‘Salvage’ has been selected for Best British Poetry 2013 (Salt Publications, Nov 2013) available now from bookshops. Meanwhile the new Ambit 215, published end of January 2014, includes her poem ‘Bouquet’, marking a young woman’s loss of her lover in WW1. Kate will be at the Ambit launch at The Sun and Thirteen Cantons, Gt Pulteney Street, Soho, on Thursday 30 January.215AMBIT cover_cropped

Naming the Rain in the Gaeltacht

At the request of a person browsing in Dulwich Books who had heard this poem read on an Irish radio programme here is Naming the Rain in the Gaeltacht written in summer 2007  and first published in the Irish poetry journal, THE SHOp, no. 28, Autumn 2008.

The rains, different every day, different according to the light and the wind speed across Brandon Bay, were incredibly varied in their effects on lanes and tracks and on our forays into the landscape.

Naming the Rain

In your tongue there are thirteen words for rain,

so tell me one

to match the clumsy rush of wet that whooshes

up the lane, inflating and detaching

hedges’ awnings, upsetting fuchsia’s red umbrellas, hurling slip-slop

scoops of honeysuckle,

cramming mouths of field drains with meadowsweet,

and maybe it’s the same

along the coast road, up-flung salted spray which whitens

shoes, rusts bikes, burnishes and buffs

tarmac to mirrors.

Early summer mornings, there’s a rain that sweeps

the bay, rounds up sea-mist,

herds its water into corries

in the saddle of Mount Brandon.

And can you name this rain that whistles, reedy, low,

a tune that wakes us

to no field, tide-line, roof or peak?

For while we slept it rained away

the world that called us to the window.