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.
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.
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.
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.
Poets and doctors speaking of the heart in its many phases – the Hippocrates Book of the Heart anthology had its London launch on 6 December 2017 at the Medical Society of London. Each English poet read an extra poem by a poet who could not be present by virtue of their living on another continent: USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the Far East.
I read ‘The Size of a Fist’ by New Yorker, Matthew Thorburn, along with my poem ‘The Smell of Hay’. It’s years since my father asked in the early days of his recovery from heart attack “what’s in the scent of new mown hay?” and I have only recently researched the answer. Hexenel, a component of Green Leaf Volatiles, or Hexanal released from the body immediately after death: both smell of cut grass.
The poem was written in ignorance of this, but clearly my father was on to something!
You can hear Kate read with Chalk Poets at St Hubert’s, Idsworth, Hampshire on the evening of 19 May: Poems and Prosecco: celebrating Edward Thomas and other writers living on the Downs. A Piece of Chalk was commissioned for the Winchester Poetry Festival 2016 and the South Downs National Park Authority. Waterloo Sunrise, a poem in six parts, newly commissioned for the Waterloo Festival at St Johns Waterloo will have its premiere on Friday 16 June in the company of the Southwark Stanza with whom Kate has long collaborated. The cafe style evening starts at 7.15pm, is followed by supper and jazz. Dont miss the chance to hear A Kind of Blue(Miles Davis) performed by the Gary Crosby Sextet as the sun goes down.
The Chalk anthology is reviewed in the London Magazine, 8 Feb 2017 and there will be readings from it on the evening of Friday 19 May 2017 to raise funds to restore the completely beautiful small church of St Hubert’s, nestling under the Downs at Idsworth, near Rowlands Castle, Hampshire.Tickets now available, https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/EJIMMI
On 3 November Kate gives the Tom Quinlan lecture, as recipient of this year’s Seamus Heaney Centre Prize, 7pm at New York University’s Glucksman Ireland House.
Poetryfest at New York’s Irish Arts Center also honours Kate with a cameo appearance: she opens the evening’s reading on 5 November at 6pm, a daunting task because the main readers are Colette Bryce and Sharon Olds. Better than Fireworks night back in Blighty though! Both events are downtown and are free, but seats should be reserved.
Colette was one of the judges of the Edwin Morgan Prize which took Kate to Edinburgh in 2008. Much water has flowed under the bridge and under the fuselage since then. It will be worth the long journey to accompany these two fine poets and add a few minutes to their programme.