GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Kathleen Jones has been described by Carol Ann Duffy as ‘a powerful female voice’.
Her pamphlet, Unwritten Lives, won the Redbeck Press Award and her first full collection, Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21, was joint winner of the Straid Award in 2012. Another prize-winning pamphlet, Mapping Emily, was published in 2017.
Kathleen is also a novelist and biographer - her work includes A Passionate Sisterhood [Virago], a group biography of the sisters, wives and daughters of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey.
She has taught creative writing in universities and is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow.
Kathleen lives in Cumbria.
138 x 216mm
£9.99 + P&P UK
PUB: SEPTEMBER 2017
A Rainmaker was a shaman in indigenous cultures: in the 21st century a Rainmaker is a financial wizard, making money for businesses. The poems in this collection record the distance we have travelled from a world where human beings were seen as part of a precariously balanced eco-system, and contemporary corporate culture which sees the environment as a resource to be exploited. The poems deal with the constant pull between our instinctive, spiritual selves and the practical, scientific and economic realities of the everyday.
Many of the poems were written on a journey to the remote Pacific islands of Haida Gwaii where the Haida Nation are at the forefront of environmental activism in British Columbia, others from travels to Russia, New Zealand and the Middle East.
“Kathleen Jones reflects on so many of the questions we should be asking about our planet and how we live on it.”
Costa Award-winning novelist.
The Rainmaker's Wife
The Rainmaker's Wife
Naked in the dry hull
of our marriage-bed
we hold to our separate weather.
He is the element of water
I of fire. The old paradox.
I am ungentle, sudden, electric,
a lightning bolt, a super nova
in the darkness of far space.
He spends time in the garden measuring
precipitation and talking to clouds.
Not in favour of ritual dancing,
or invocations, he prefers dry ice and crystals
of silver iodide and salt. Seeding the sky
to make tadpoles of electric rain wriggle
across the window pane.
I love the rhythm the rain makes
on the roof when I wake in the night,
and every green thing it brings.
But not its cold drench, the shivering
misery of the damp, the hiss and suck
of the north sea in January.
There is something disturbing about
the blind surface of deep water,
the drag of its tides and currents.
I refuse to go down into it like a diver,
frog-legged, breathing gas.
But when he touches my skin, with a cool hand,
our fatal chemistry could vaporise an ocean.
We are each other’s counterpoint,
both there at the beginning, the light shining
on dark water, and in the dark he moves
inside me, swimming gently, towards the light.
The Myth House
“The hardest part of anything
is the beginning…”
but the Raven stole the script
from the Beaver. First, four
redwoods at the corners
and one, taller, for
the house pole, shaved
with blades of basalt
shaping the lineage of Blue
Heron, Dogfish Woman and
the round eye of the Bear.
The mouth of the house must speak to the sea
the rear exit to the mountain, and the smoke hole
is where we have a conversation with immortals
constellations of words going up in tobacco smoke.
And Raven-side and Eagle-side perch together
under a roof of bark and branches
weighted with rocks against the constant
wind blowing over the cedars like surf
breaking on the surface of the ocean.
The Year Zero
It was the year there was no summer
when winter drizzled and froze
through a reluctant spring
into a cloud-shrouded August
snowdrops in April and
February Fill-dyke in July.
We had no name for these new seasons
or the year that refused to turn
in its old rhythms.
It was the year that our mythologies lost
meaning and the oracles were dumb.
Hawberries glutted the warm winter
red skies at night brought only storm.
We had no signs to warn us of the plague-
beetle in the bark, no animal or bird
to augur the weirding weather –
geese stopped migrating and
the swallows stayed.
It was the year we found that we no longer
spoke the language of the land. The year
science had no answer to the big question.
The year we knew we needed a new story
to tell us how to live.
Bran the Blessed
The Raven, a celt this time,
has no intention of going straight.
Bran the Blessed is his hot pick
for power. Raven and his clan –
avenging the dark-haired sea-god’s
daughter – swarm into battle croaking
doom for the less well connected.
Raven’s the message, Raven’s the new cool,
‘You will have me less if you want me more’
Raven is the Next Big Thing.
Any excuse for a good slaughter.
Bran uses his cauldron to cook up
the dead and then weave them back
into the thread of the story –
You can’t keep a good Raven down!
It will end with a trick – and no one knows
his exit line, or the direction he’ll take.
Skinny Dipping at Isola Santa
The lake is the blue green of glacial melt-
water, the mountain, upside-down
on its wrinkled skin, rocked by
our naked plunge.
The fish fry,
little cannibals, nibble my toes
and arms trawl bracelets of weed.
Deeper in, millenniums of dark water
plummet under the blue mayflies darting
electric above its liquid ecology. I feel
the tug of invisible vectors, the chill
of ancient ice.
Skin to skin,
I am fish, trailing weed, a floating leaf,
a sleek apostrophe curving through
the sun’s piercings at the innocent surface.