Not everything has a name

Kate was complex and felt life intensely, with a big energy. Her joy was as powerful as every other feeling. Images speak in her writing, and there is a sense of mystery and awe in her experience.

Read the foreword by Maxine Linnell...

I’m struck by so much richness in her poems. The range of subjects and themes, the references to dance, to art, to colour, to places and people. She has an ability not to explain but to bring to life, to allow us to listen and find our own truths. She explores the extremities of birth, life and death, the beautiful danger of foxes and birds.

Everything is mixed: passion is on the edge of pain, mystery merges with secrets. Human beings embrace and fear the light of truth. She takes us to Kafka in Marienbad in 1916, and the view from her window in Leicester. And while her words sing and surprise, she’s aware that ‘not everything has a name’.

Kate had always written poetry, and she entered the worlds of Kafka and Nijinsky and made poems that sang of their spirit and anguish. These are big poems, expressed with meticulous attention. In A Million Words, Kafka and Felice Bauer’s long-distance love is recorded, reminding us of  the gap between all writers and their readers:

A million inky words
pushing and pulling,
jostling for attention,
franked and dispatched,
their resonance dwindling
as they cross the chain of mountains
and travel to her hand.

Click here to read the full poem ‘A Million Words’

Kate’s friendship was sparky and engaging. She was up for adventures, and she loved live performance. Soon after I met Kate at Leicester Writers’ Club in about 2001, we discovered a shared love of theatre and contemporary dance. We sat in the front few rows at Curve Theatre to see Akram Khan and Matthew Bourne; she had trained in dance, and loved to see the movements up close. She enjoyed every minute totally immersed.

While many of her poems focus on intense solitary moments, there’s a strong sense of connection; in Songs, she writes about discovering the power of listening, of being ready for a poem to appear, by asking how it’s done.

She asked how he had made them
Those bundles of words arranged on white paper.
After a while he looked up to the sky,
Empty at first, except for air.

The poem takes her through her own process, watching the birds, as elusive as poems, until she is truly prepared for them:

She breathed in as if it were her last,
searched the hill for a spill of shadows,
set up wooden cages, doors flapping open,
scattered sunflower seeds and dry crusts for luring
then waited, the words already fluttering on her tongue.

Click here to read the full poem ‘Songs’

The poems relate to her experience, but mostly without the intimacy of using ‘I’. We don’t always know how personal each poem is, and that leaves her free to explore a world that embraces imagination and reality. But every poem has Kate in it: she is totally present in the writing.

In 2011 we formed a small group with Marilyn Ricci and Karin Koller to share more intimate, personal work. Kate worked with a powerful, restrained series of poems about her childhood. She was also working on a novel, Smog, which she later took to the Justwrite group at the Depot.

Kate became President of  Leicester Writers’ Club and won several awards, pushing at some of the limits she felt. She lived life to its edges and enjoyed other people immensely. She was always supportive and ready to encourage new writers to come forward.

Kate loved literary festivals and went regularly to the Hay Festival, the Bath Literary Festival and Cheltenham. She liked multi media work, and with Chris, she offered poems for animation students at De Montfort University to present for their courses.

I miss Kate hugely, her radiance, her fun and her willingness to have adventures. She often felt anxious but that didn’t stop her taking risks. Her family and Chris were always central and she had energy for lots of friendship. The last years of her life were difficult for her and everyone who cared about her, but there’s so much to treasure in having known her.

And now it’s a delight to have her work collected on this website: she was hesitant about submitting for publication, though she has a considerable list of published work. Chris and Ellie have created a wonderful new home for her writing, which benefits from the photographs and paintings. There is work here that few people will have seen before. Her friends can discover more of her writing and she will gather more readers to enjoy it.

– Maxine Linnell, Writer