Katherine Gallagher

The woman’s hands
are tied behind her back –

her hands are not allowed
to speak for her.
The interrogator lays his knife

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Katherine Gallagher, who has lived in London since the 1970s, has now published six books of poetry, all but two of them with British or American publishers. This book selects poems from her earlier books, together with twelve new poems. As a whole, it gives the sense of a writer’s development over a period of thirty-five years, with some slight shifts of style over that time.

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They change colour

before your eyes,

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Circus-Apprentice by Katherine Gallagher

by
May 2007, no. 291

Katherine Gallagher’s is a poetry of small spaces and objects, tiny hollows of memory that momentarily glow, incandescent, in the imagination: ‘knotted roots / reaching down into the riverbed’, ‘faces mottled in eucalyptus shade’, that place ‘beside the pond, in foaming clusters / creamy flowers of meadowsweet; / and there’s goatsbeard (‘jack-go-to-bed-at-noon’) / bird’s-foot trefoil, majoram and reeds.’ These latter lines are from the poem ‘Summer Odyssey (Railway Fields, for D.B.)’, an occasional poem for a small piece of land ‘Between Green Lane and the New River’s / four hundred-year-old waterway’. The poet spins from the ordinary and the overlooked a world of intricacy and quiet sensual power.=

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Tigers and ‘the Silk Road to Istanbul’ feature in Part I of ‘1969’, the opening poem in this volume, which traces a hopeful setting forth into the undiscovered spaces of Asia and Europe. It is playfully exotic even while the homeward pull of a relationship envelops perception like a cloudscape:

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