Katherine Crocker has published two collections of poetry.  Ten of the poems from her latest book, Breathing under Water, were shortlisted for the Poetry School/ Pighog Press Pamphlet Competition in 2013.  

Her first collection, Long Exposure at Cordoba, won the IDP collection competition in 2010.  


Katherine is widely travelled, including South America and South East Asia.  She loves to take travel photographs and in 2012 won first prize in the Explore Worldwide amateur photography competition.  


When not writing, she spends time singing, playing guitar and tending to her small city garden in York.









138 x 216mm


60 pages


£7.99 + P&P UK


ISBN 978-1-910834-31-2


PUB: 20th March 2017


5 Illustrations










This  is more than a collection of poems, as one poem leads into the next, many are linked by images which appear and disappear.  The reader will undertake a journey through this book, water as substance and hinterland, life-giving and life-threatening, linking the work from start to finish.  The book ends where is started – breathing under water



‘Katherine Crocker's poems are founded in reality: the reality of the material - stone and water - and the reality of imaginative experience. What they show is how these two faces of reality come together to make art: that in fact this is what art is. The poems carry total conviction and compulsion.’

Bernard O’Donoghue  


‘The poems in Breathing Under Water are intricately written, tender and moving. She observes the world with a keen eye. Each piece suggests a universe and narrative of its own. Read it in one sitting and be mesmerised. Then read it again.’

Abi Curtis








Water was the matrix of the world and of all its creatures. All the metals, stones, all the glittering rubies, … gold and silver are derived from it.    

                                                                         Paracelsus (1493-1541)

Breathing Under Water


Katherine Crocker

Divers’ Blue


He walks along the cliff in the brightness

of dawn, colour changing from yellow to turquoise

then blue. Turning tides and distant sea


borrow the blue from the sky. This is the logic

of light she never understood. Below, he can hear

waves crash and leans over the edge


to see her face in the surf. He wants to dive

in the perfect blue divers say is only found when

the sun shines in shallow coastal water.  


Newman blue, canto VII; blue

you cannot keep because sky and water

play their trick in a mirage. He can’t live


like this where nothing is really what it seems.

No-one sees him dive like Guillemots’ wings

dragging a line of blue sky into the water.






Her footprints leave no trace

in the dense roots of water cress

and reed mace so tall she can't  

see over. Fog muffles her call,

Is anybody there?  

She follows a whisper.


Her pearl-bowed shoes slip off

her feet. Her dress, the colour

of Lady’s Smock, is caught

in blackthorn at the pool’s edge.  

Long blue fingers pull her further.  

Come in, he says.


Her white stockings blacken

in ice-cold water. Her thighs

push open as he holds her under.

She feels his weight fill her lungs.  

She cannot speak. In the distance

her mother calls, Where are you?  




If I Had A Boat


I’d sail to the island

where morning surf cuts adrift

the sandy track.


I’d walk to the field behind the castle.

My bare feet would burn

on the path where ladybirds flock.


The only shade would be

the boat house porch

made from fishermen’s crates.


I’d paddle in the froth and churn

of the North Sea,

skimming pebbles over the waves.


This is how I’d chain-stitch

links of water to the mainland,

the stones escaping.  


But I have no boat and I’m counting

crab pots at the harbour.

You are waving to me from the island.

Illusionist, Marrakech


She conjures him

from rose water and cinnamon,

spices and perfume

from El Kelaa.


In the company of snake charmers,

she changes him

into a juggler with a monkey

from the Atlas Mountains.


He’s balanced on a tight rope,

spins fire torches for clowns

and acrobats with banjos.

Flamingos take photos.


Now he’s a storyteller

wearing yellow feast-day slippers

and he disappears in smoke

at Jamaa el Fna Square.




Sub-zero Lovers


Minus five, they travel for days, north from Irkutsk,

to the coldest place on earth.  

He cleans his hunting knife. She finds cosmic rays,

a mile below the frozen lake.


At Baikal, temperatures drop

to minus ten. The dogs tear raw meat in new snow.

White is stained vermillion.

She counts blue neutrinos unravelled from the sun.  


The wind tugs his fingers. He lights a fire.

But it’s not cold, she says,

not yet. When our breath strings beads of blood and ice

then we’ll need the fire.


Fog comes from the north,

the dogs sense a storm, howl for home.  Snot freezes

her nostrils.  His eyes almost shut.

If they touch, they risk ripping each other’s flesh.


On the last day, below minus twenty, the ‘scope’s hauled

from the deepest water.  

No matter the cost she stalks the dying light.

Cold rushes in her heart.


Now at minus forty, snow is blue.

They’re found wrapped in furs, one formless mass

of ice-bound black, faces lost

after the bears.  



Song to the Moon


He followed Rusalka into the frozen water,

hesitating a moment then could not resist

the spell of the water-goblin’s daughter.


She held him in her arms until his chest

laced with ice and he closed his eyes.

She kissed his final breath.


His head fell back, their limbs unfurled.

Together they sank in the depths of winter

and crossed the border to the underworld.


The goblin king watched and wept.

His daughter would never sing again.

Her lover’s face, white as the moon.

BOOK (2) amend 9781910834312