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Katherine Stansfield
Katherine Stansfield

Katherine Stansfield was born in Cornwall. She studied with Matthew Francis, Damian Walford Davies and Tiffany Atkinson at the University of Aberystwyth and is recognisably of their 'school' of writers. She now teaches Creative Writing there to undergraduates. Her reviews of contemporary fiction and poetry have appeared in New Welsh Review, Poetry Wales and Planet. Her own poetry has appeared in Poetry Wales, NWR, Poetry Cornwall, The James Dickey Review and in various anthologies. Her first novel, The Visitor, was published in 2014. She was long-listed for the Eric Gregory Awards in 2011.


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Katherine Stansfield Poetry


Poems from Playing House by Katherine Stansfield (Seren Books - 15 October 2014)

 

 

Brian Blessed in Pwllheli   

SciFi Weekender, 2013

 

 

Brian takes to the stage

for what’s meant to be a Q&A

about Flash Gordon and his love

of goosing but he’s

on a mission to spread

the good word

about space:

                        we are children

of stardust, meant to travel further

than thought, the moon

only the start:

                          Mars, Jupiter, Saturn are waiting

for us who must leap light years now. 

 

Brian announces he’s completed

cosmonaut training and is ready

to go. He holds out his hand and I,

until now afraid

of space –

                  the cold, the ease

                                                of getting lost and my head

                                                                                             exploding –

take it. The hall’s sticky carpet

and discarded Starbucks cups

melt away as I mount the stage

and Brian’s saying yes, yes, that’s it

and the walls fall flat and the floor

warms then lifts and we’re going

                                                            going

                                                                                    gone.

 

 

 

 

Royal Icing

 

 

It brought me back to land, that cake, kept me months

in galleys that didn’t pitch, didn’t fill with heaving men.

Training had whipped my ambition, stirred a need

for swift precision, and the blueprint proved in dreams.

 

Rum-drenched fruit foundations, cement of yolks

and sugar joists. It would be tall but not as tall as her:

I want a cake, not a monument. But I couldn’t stop.

 

Each sultana had to pass eight separate checks.

Cherries only made it if they glowed.

The icing took me weeks to roll; a growing fall

of snow it settled fast then drank all light nearby.

 

She looked afraid, her smile lost

inside the white. I saw it later as I covered cracks

with fresh caresses.

                              Too much hid in that blinding place:

my father’s voice, torn football cards, the allotment

after dark.

 

People only ask me now because 

she’s dead, as if the recipe has answers.

How many raisins? How many eggs?

 

 

 

 

My dental hygienist and I listen to Radio 2

 

 

I open up. Plaque, he says, and scrapes me.

What colour ribbon did Max tie round the old oak tree?

My teeth are splitting.

We'll have to push you for an answer.

I spit small clots.

Name the first studio album from Oasis.

Polish, like being pebble-dashed. Like dying?

Ok, moving on. Two minutes left.

My tongue flops, is braised by the buzz head.

Who had a number one hit with Breathless?

I am slobber. Shining pain. Finished, he says.

Here’s what you got wrong.

Swill, he says. The beach in my mouth.

Would you like to say hi to anyone before you go?

I regret not wearing braces when there was less shame.

Coming up next – travel and weather.

I’ve seen worse, he says. I swallow the blood.

But first, the song everyone’s talking about–

Floss, he says. The answer is to floss.


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