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One Eye'd Leigh
Categories: 21st Century, African, First Collections, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (72 pages)
(Pub. Apr 2009)
You were a bird before we met. I know that
because over your skew front teeth
your mouth makes a pointy beak.
I saw you first in Dickens' London,
an evening of frosted windows
and hot steaming steak.
from 'You were a bird' by Katharine Kilalea
One Eye'd Leigh is a book of portraits, experiments and objects made of words. They find their locations between Cape Town and London, between the dawn of the new millennium and the present day. Guided by a biographical thread, in her first collection Kate Kilalea borrows the techniques of a craftsman to transform material into new shapes: an artist's concentrated gaze at the very particular subject in her portrait poems; an embroiderer's delicate craft of stitching to create a paced poetry, meticulous in detail. Her language is familiar, her forms transparent. She leads readers through a landscape in which the lucid angles of a chair might express love more precisely than the lines of a sonnet. It is the ways in which these poems turn what is familiar into something strange and new, what is stable fluid, and how out of light darkness is seen to shine, that make these poems powerful, haunting and original.
You were a bird
Portrait of Our Death
Portrait of the beach
Self-portrait with Colwyn (doing the dishes)
Stitch and unpick
Fallen down things
The small Karoo
My name changed
Goodbye is a semi-circle
Like we did (salt, coffee and apricot jam)
The boy with a fire in his boot
The conductor and the world in the wallpaper
The Liberty Cap
An incident among the wildflowers
How the fish lost its head
Recycled small boys
A perfect love
The grey fox
Dirty little rat
The secret life of objects
The concealing chair
A knapsack for lovers
The way we look is a game of chess
How we hold each other
Planting bulbs at Arnold Circus
The things I take
The way birds stand
The opportunistic lover
Awards won by Katharine Kilalea Short-listed, 2009 Costa Book Award (One Eye'd Leigh)
'A wonderful example of original writing. She develops forms, illustrates objects, creates portraits and experiments stylishly with noticeable passion. A delight to read.'
Poetry Review '[Kilalea] illuminates ordinary events with arresting imagery...The most striking feature of this writing is its sure-footedness, its effortlessness.'
Ambit magazine 'It's noticeable that a debut volume like Katherine Kilalea's One Eye's Leigh is [...] consistent throughout, and is vigorous with inventive ideas, colloquial voices and formal energy'
Ian Gregson, Stand Magazine, Vol 9 (3) 2009
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