GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
THINGS I WILL PUT IN MY
Catherine Graham grew up in Newcastle on Tyne where she still lives.
Her awards include a Northern Voices Poetry Award.
Her chapbook Signs (ID on Tyne Press) was one of The Poetry Kit's top five recommended books for 2011.
Catherine's work has appeared alongside poems by internationally acclaimed poets including: Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney, Benjamin Zephaniah, Sharon Olds and Bob Dylan in Soul Feathers (Indigo Dreams Publishing 2011) and Paul Muldoon, Robert Hass, Fleur Adcock and Penelope Shuttle in The Stony Thursday Book (Arts Office of Limerick City Council, Ireland 2009).
She is a popular performer at poetry events including: Northern Stage, the Liverpool International Weekend of Poetry (with Jim Bennett, The Poetry Kit) and a number of Amnesty International Poetry Benefits.
THINGS I WILL PUT IN MY MOTHER'S POCKET
Indigo Dreams Publishing
138 x 216mm
£8.95 + P&P UK
Publication March 2013
When I set out on my journey
I shall leave home early.
I shall wear shoes that breathe slowly;
button up my best coat.
My scarf will wrap itself around me,
brushing my cheek like a newborn hand
and I shall need a bag, the one
that smells of her favourite perfume.
A simple sign
nailed to a wooden post.
See her alight with only the ghost
of a well dressed smile.
This is the place
where dandelion clocks stand still.
Making Clogs At Gallowgate
I let him believe I'm fourteen; old enough
to be a clog-maker. The rough, green overall
tied tight around my waist gives me the figure
I haven't got: I comb my fringe to the side.
Uppers hang in the workshop like kippers;
the genuine smell of leather all around.
Gripping the sycamore sole between my legs,
I squeeze my knees together, like mam
says I always should, and hammer like hell
at the horseshoe, braying the nails into the wood:
slicing leather with the sharpest knife in the world;
my hands bleeding, like Christ up on the cross.
Soon I'll be promoted to stretching the skins
over metal lasts, if I keep my head down.
My workmates are five sisters, all would-be
opera singers. Listen, you can hear them
even now, Si tu ne m'aimes pas prends garde à toi!
And old Ebenezer next door, stitching:
our would-be baritone. Every morning
we're greeted by a longtail that runs along the pipes.
The same R.A.T. (for it's unlucky to say the word),
comes out again at noon, scurrying around
like a frantic clerk of works, on the look out
for idle crumbs. The loud clock ticka ticka ticka ticks
its way to Friday when the shop window's filled
with beautiful black clogs, perched in pairs
on shelves, like lovebirds, and I collect my
seven and six. That's when I leave work
by the front door, so I can pass the window
and Fenwick's with its felt hats and blouses
made from the finest of satins and silks.
Bedroom slippers are her dance shoes now,
still shining like silver paper
as we slow waltz around the kitchen.
One two three one
two three. Left hand resting on my shoulder,
right hand palm to palm with mine,
her wedding ring no longer round.
Without band or CD
we sing her favourite: Moonlight and Roses.
The mother I meet this morning
smiles as she did at nineteen, her twenty inch waist
the envy of every girl in the dance hall.
Resting her head on my breast
she whispers how much she's missed me.
Today I am my father, yesterday
her schoolgirl daughter, scolded
for not clearing my plate. The glitter ball stops
right above us; we collect our prize and pour tea.
Scent Of A Woman
When a new love gives you
perfume for Christmas
you want to swim in it; spray it
in places you haven't touched
in years. When you discover
it's the perfume his first love wore
you want explosive sex
before spraying some in his eyes.
Things I Will Put In My Mother's Pocket
The photograph taken
on the veranda,
his arm around her shoulder.
The letter he sent
Her first-born's silver bangle.
Imperial Leather soap,
and a clean apron.
A Jim Reeves L.P.,
a bottle of
Youth Dew perfume.
The way he'd call her bonnie lass
and touch her cheek
as she entered the room.
I'll not answer,
letting me know she's safe home.
“Graham writes with a sharp eye for detail, building glorious pictures that reveal and explore her subjects in new and exciting ways. She is incisive, direct and there is something fresh about her approach and style that makes these poems very readable and memorable.”
“These poems explore intimacy and distance, the breathtaking strangeness of everyday situations, and the many faces of pain and hope. They entertain, too. Skilfully plucked images are spun across the reader's attention with playful bravado. Tyneside has produced a new poet. Catherine Graham is the real thing.”
"In an original, imaginative series of poetry, Catherine Graham, weaves lyricism and everyday insights to create a glorious fabric. She creates a beautiful collection of poems full of the wonderful material of life."