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One Eye'd Leigh

Katharine Kilalea

One Eye'd Leigh by Katharine Kilalea
10% off
Categories: 21st Century, African, First Collections, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (72 pages)
(Pub. Apr 2009)
£9.95 £8.96
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  • 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
    Loose ends
    Fallen down things
    Sleeping bridges
    The small Karoo
    Test pieces
    The vineyard
    The surfaces
    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
    Music box
    Planting bulbs at Arnold Circus
    The things I take
    The way birds stand
    Kolya's nails
    The opportunistic lover

    Originally from South Africa, Katharine Kilalea moved to London in 2005 to study for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Her first book, One Eye’d Leigh was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award and longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize for writers under 30. She has ... read more
    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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