GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Kathryn Southworth was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, and now lives in Camden Town, London and Prinknash, Gloucestershire. She is married with three surviving children and three grandchildren.
She has always written poetry but returned to it in earnest only after a long career as an academic in midlands universities. She was a founding fellow of the English Association, Head of English and Cultural Studies at the University of Wolverhampton and held senior management posts there and at Newman University and also worked for the Quality Assurance Agency. She has been a governor of the Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust and is currently a governor of Rose Bruford College of Drama and Theatre Arts.
She has published poetry and reviews in several magazines and anthologies and reads at a number of London poetry venues, including the Poetry Café and Torriano Meeting House. The literary canon informs her writing, as does her Catholic faith, surreptitiously.
Cover artwork by Ronnie Goodyer
138 x 216mm
£9.99 + P&P UK
Someone was here
The title is a translation of inukshuk, the northern peoples’ image of a human presence in the landscape, which represents resolve and hope amidst the challenges and uncertainties of existence. The poems engage with the spiritual practices of different cultures and a wealth of historical and family stories. Underlying them all is a journey infused with the awareness of mortality but resonant with a feeling for life’s underlying continuity and our human connectedness, not least through the power of poetry itself.
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“One of the joys of Kathryn Southworth’s poems is their vigorous interest in the lives of other people, past and present. Then each poem is a quest for expression and form, as she says, ‘in hope/in resolve/to solve/to find answer/as the dance/finds the dancer..’ ”
Dinah Livingstone - Editor ‘Sofia’
“A rich collection from a versatile poet. The voice is exact and considered, sometimes with conscious echoes of other poetry, sometimes witty, sometimes vernacular, and the poems are beautifully formed. Whilst they are threaded with mortality, there is a faith in continuity and the value of memory and writing.”
“Lyrical, with a fine command of language, these poems indicate a mature mind that has thought long and deeply regarding the implications of faith and the genesis of such conviction.”
Someone was here
trying to rescue with words,
the several colours of stones
in the flow that scarcely troubles them,
delighting in these cobbles,
patterns of waves amid the random
track to somewhere else,
in the gothic cromlech,
memorial, if not to someone in particular,
to the idea of memorial
and the inukshuk amid the miles and miles of nothing,
a human form, holding out its arms
to claim and bless.
musk I burn
like the sitar’s tale
like the sari’s sadness
like the stainless birds
round Radha’s head
happy as stars
round the roe-deer girl
waiting her lover
fragile to a vein
like a long braid
sealed in innocence
roses I scatter
through silver bells’ jingling
filling my hands
to empty them
Lord of the overflowing waters?
Never a pedigree sort of bear, no chip in the ear
or anything, nothing special about him,
not even a proper name.
But my companion in every imagined adventure,
bed-time confidante when the lights went out.
His brown glass eyes were set at odd angles.
He never had real paws, that I remember,
the leather was already worn away
and hind paws replaced by gingham patches,
fore paws by metal buttons,
like prosthetic limbs.
Not a single body hair was left,
making his skin oddly human and in need
of the clothes my mother knitted,
though she could only do dresses.
The last one was pink.
Finding Ted in a box in the garage
I took pity, made him paws and a jumper,
looked him in the eyes for signs of our old relationship.
He squinted back
Poetic exchange on the Regent’s Canal
“Look a’ that,” the builder urged his mate,
pointing at two tiny moorhen chicks
on their straggly legs
– “larke spiders.”
I liked his style.
“A poet called them ‘feathered balls of soot’,”
He didn’t seem impressed:
“You fro’ the Narth?”
was all he said.
But turning away
he told his mate,
“’Feathered balls o’ soot’,
I like that.”
See these steps,
surviving the latest upgrade to the house,
worn hollow in the middle:
people still trudge up them with shopping,
bump wheelie cases, coax children.
Do they feel what once was:
the absence that contains a century’s detritus,
the warmth of many soles before them,
retained in their dusty emptiness?
And as history might research the treads of feet
that ever climbed the stairs,
and science track their DNA and every trace,
so those people in our lives who touched us,
never really leave,
even if they drop off Christmas lists,
even when our own hard disks are wiped,
even rogue prions and decay of identity itself
can never quite erase
the patina of our connectedness.
Galilees of the heart
Before the clutter and clatter of now,
before the claims of the city,
tangle of alleyways, lure of avenues,
before silting up from veins to arteries
was the pure idea
before purpose was blunted by calculus,
before poetry was muddied by interpretation,
before layer was laid upon layer,
stones tumbling under the freight
of time. Before
I forget the bones
of the story, remind me
of the source, return
me to the shore.
There dare me trace it back,
lull me, lake, in the heart’s rhythms,
hills, still the mind’s muttering –
until I can divine
when the water turns to wine.