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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
£7.99 + P&P UK
PUB: 20th March 2017
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.’
‘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.’
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.
Breathing Under Water
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.
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.
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.