An American in London

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An American in London

We had the wonderful poet, Kathryn Maris, to Swindon several times in recent years. She’s a delightful person. When she reads she really sucks you in, or maybe it’s those amazing eyes that dazzle or the American accent. Whatever it is, I’m a huge fan.

So it was lovely to come across some of her new poems in a poetry magazine recently. Like most poets, Kathryn’s poems are about the personal, though she regularly says they may not be about her. She might just be an observer. I think that’s just a disarming tease.

But it does bring up the subject that Robert Frost said about poets: “If you want to do something brave, write poetry.” Unlike novelists and short story writers, the poet puts the personal on to the page. That’s brave.

Kathryn’s poem “The death of empiricism” is such a poem. It has thirteen statements, each of which made me pause before reading the statement again. I love that; what seems clear may not be quite clear, there’s expectation, then the dawning. Here are five statements from the poem:

When you think someone is a sadist, it may mean that you are a masochist.

Someone who makes the gestures of love may not love you, and someone who makes none of the gestures but behaves in a loving way also may not love you.

What looks like the flag of Japan may be a bloodied bedsheet; and an attempted mating call may rouse only those of the wrong sex.

The flip side of a close-knit family is an honour killing.

That your daughter asks for a glass of milk while you are reading her this poem does not mean it is without sustenance.


First published in Swindon Link