Poetry

Kay's poetry collection, Double Edge, was published in 2012 by Pighog Press, which has since been taken over by Red Hen Press. Kay's poems have been widely anthologised and have appeared in many journals including Poetry Review, Long Poem Magazine and Brand, and she has received a number of prizes and commendations for her work.

Kay regularly writes reviews and articles for the poetry journal Artemis. She has also written for The North and The Frogmore Papers and is currently Poetry Editor (with Jan Fortune) of ENVOI Poetry.

Homage to Sylvia Plath

after Plath's poem
Yadwigha, on a Red Couch, Among Lilies (1958)
A sestina for the Douanier

The word homage comes from the French word
for man, homme (a douanier on a red velvet couch
before a mille-fleurs tapestry perhaps) and describes
an act of feudal allegiance, fealty to one's personal lord
in honour of vassalage itself, with a ceremony where
the junior fellow appears bare-headed and weaponless
in a wilderness of heart-shaped leaves as a sign
of his submission to the will of his seigneur, kneeling,
red against green, the younger man clasping his hands
before him, body whiter than a frill of lilies
and stretching out those clasped hands as the lord takes
them in his in what is called a 'handgang', a touching
to ensure the hierarchy, the men now bonded
like two birds of paradise; and this same gesture
(this sacred, luminous touching) is apparently enacted
still in the ceremony for conferring degrees at
Cambridge (where, as we know, she graduated).
But how can we pay our debt and respects
in a modern way, how offer a Thesaurus of service,
tribute, loyalty, troth, fidelity, esteem, worship,
admiration, devotion, adulation, reverence, awe
or duty, without deference? I often cry when I read
Sylvia Plath, scored by her precision and wit,
by her power to eviscerate, to bleed us
on the red couch, surrounded by catalpa leaves,
while she glows such red! under a vast, uncaged moon.

Homage is published in a new anthology, Her Wings of Glass (eds. Myra Schneider & Penelope Shuttle), available from poetry pf.
See also poems in another new anthology Fanfare (eds. Wendy French & Dilys Wood).

See Kay's poems on the Visual Verse website and Spark.

Double Edge cover Buy 'Double Edge' from Pighog Press

Tatiana's Visit

Outside, behind the leaves, the hill is a strip
of white sand. Inside, I raise my knuckles,
bring them to the wall—You hear me at once,
far away: you are far away when you hear.

I bring the wall towards you, bring the air
to you, gathered in my fist. Behind the wall
you eat bread, soup, black grapes (you tear
one from its stem—let your lips close).

The window's a bocca di lupo, with bars
on the inside; all I can see is a stretch of sky -
(Tania, Julca - please, tell my boys to write.)


Outside, on the white sand, I pray for you,
and you don't pray—ever—each of us standing
on our high, stony ground, our hearts starving.

In 'Tatiana's Visit', the italicised lines are from Antonio Gramsci's prison letters, slightly adapted. Gramsci, philosopher and founder of the Italian Communist Party, was imprisoned for many years under Mussolini's regime. His wife Julia ('Julca') moved back to Russia with their two sons, but her sister, Tatiana, who was a devout Catholic, visited him regularly in prison.

Bunker

Objects of Colour cover 'Bunker' is taken from 'Objects of Colour: Baltic Coast' by Gina Glover and Kay Syrad

Objects of Colour, a collection of photographs and poems, is the result of a two-year collaboration between Kay and the award-winning photographer, Gina Glover. Using a pinhole camera, Gina photographed abandoned beaches and military bases in Lithuania, Poland, Latvia and Estonia. Kay responded by writing poems that contemplate these surreal, vividly coloured images. As the artist Chris Drury writes in his introductory essay in Objects of Colour, '...it is this combination of thoughtless concentration on the images and thoughtful concentration which ignites the mind of the poet, draws up the interior into the light.' (www.ginaglover.com)

Objects of Colour: Baltic Coast
Gina Glover and Kay Syrad
Foxhall Publishing,
February 2009
Currently out of print but a few copies are available from Kay via the Contacts & Links page

Above the horizon, blue, indigo:
principle of dark. Below,

a concrete hut with a slot-mouth
lists in a river of stones.

At the slot's lip, a white stain
(paint or chalk) draws the eye to

lichen. The drift and spread
of stones around the hut suggests

bluff, a reckless casting, while
a felted black in the foreground

cries out for end, the gone of it, cries
out to the black-hatted priest beyond.

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