This lovely beast is Doorkins, the Southwark Cathedral cat. She was a stray who moved in and stayed, and now has an international fan following. When I was working on the garden poems project in the Dean’s garden earlier this year, I was asked for a poem for her. My family has had three similarly decisive cats – they just dropped us a memo saying your house is our house now, claimed all the sunny spots and never moved out – so I was very happy to write something. I don’t think I’ve written a cat poem before. I’ve definitely not written a cathedral poem before. When I went to meet her, she was elusive in a familiar fashion.
Looking for Doorkins
I started with Shakespeare. His alabaster lap
must, I thought, provide the ideal spot
for a cat the colour of rain on stone to sleep.
She wasn’t there. Nor could I find her stretched out
in the chapel or curled among the tombs
or tucked like a hassock underneath a pew.
The candle flames I saw were candle flames
and not the flicker of a feral, feline eye.
So now, you try. You play this game of hide
and seek. That squeak in the organ – was it her?
Is that her in the scratches on the Bishop’s Throne?
Stand by a stained glass window, count to a hundred
and perhaps you’ll see her padding by, her fur
a flare of green and gold and purple sun.
A step closer to publication – this is the first proof of Now You Can Look, my forthcoming pamphlet from The Emma Press. Late Sept it’s due, or thereabouts.
I’ve got a couple of readings coming up for it – one at the Birmingham Literature Festival on 14 October and one at Bridlington Poetry Festival on 21 October.
That pile of proofs is spread out on a yellow kimono. It’s the key image of the collection.
A beautiful day on Bankside today, in the Dean of Southwark Cathedral’s garden as part of Mixed Borders, the Poetry School’s poet-in-residence collaboration with London Parks and Gardens Trust who run London Open Garden Squares weekend. 500 visitors, and many gallons of lemonade sold.
I wrote 10 poems about the history of the area, laying them out in flower shapes because the Dean is a George Herbert fan, and the one fun fact we all know about Herbert is his skill with the pattern poem. In the photo, you can see the flower poems collaged on top of photos and illustrations.
Thank you to all of the staff and volunteers who made me so welcome. Here are the poems … Continue reading
The lovely librarians of Nottingham are holding a poetry festival in July (11-16) and I’m their digital poet in residence. I’ll be making myself at home on their Facebook and Twitter, and will be giving the old Poembola a spin at Southwell Library over the last weekend of the Festival. A great line up – Jackie Kay, Paul Farley, Hollie McNish and lots more readers.
From 12-16 June, I’ll be making another flock of of origami poetry pigeons with the patients, staff and visitors at Guy’s Cancer Centre in London Bridge. Each pigeon (and we’re aiming for 1,000 of ’em) will contain a message – a wish, a prayer or a poem.
Thank you to Keats House for inviting Mike Sims and me back for another summer picnic of readings, games and poetical Romantical thematical cakes. We’ll be performing a new summery version of ‘A Joy Forever’ (subtitled ‘I Almost Wish We Were Butterflies’) at Keats House in Hampstead on 29th July. Tickets and all the details here.
I’m reading with Lauren Kaye at the Gypsy Hill Tavern for Beyond Words on 2 May. 7.30 onwards, details here … Beyond Words Poetry London