Tag Archives: poems about domestic violence

16 Days of Action #day15


The cliché advice when we go for job interviews or doing a performance is to think of the audience or the interviewers with no clothes on, or think of them on the toilet.

Someone once said to me that another technique is to imagine the person smaller.

This poem is about that really – the fallacy that size or lack of it can make someone less frightening.

But also about power, and who has it and who doesn’t.  How sometimes power that looks like power can be not-power, can be something else.   The power to make someone smaller, to diminish them, to make them a character of black/white, good/evil, to make something simple, sometimes isn’t power at all.

In Ovid’s version of the story of Thetis, who is a shape-shifter, a goddess of the waves who can become any animal or bird that she chooses, is promised in marriage to Peleus, against her will.  Peleus catches her in a sea-cave and binds her, waiting while she changes into hundreds of different shapes before she eventually gives in and submits to him.

Sometimes the power to change is no power at all either.

The World’s Smallest Man

Today I make you into the world’s smallest man.
You are so small I open my hand and you dance
on the great landscape of my palm.

You are a thin stick of a man.  When you stretch out
along my life line, your feet touch my wrist
and your head rests below my index finger.

You are a small man, but like a small dog
you are unaware of your size.  Sometimes
you go missing for days then jump out

and shout surprise! But you do not mean surprise.
I decided to make you even smaller, the size
of an insect.  Now you can walk upside down.

I think of all the places I could leave you
now you are smaller than the lightest
water boatman, but you keep shrinking

till you are less than a grain of salt,
so small you are living on my skin.
And, once I breathe, I breathe you in.


Sunday Poem – Stephanie Green


Today it feels much longer than a week since I updated my blog – maybe because it has been a really exciting week.  First of all I did my first public reading from my new collection.  Although I did read from it whilst tutoring on the residential course I was running with Carola Luther in Grange over Sands, that was to a small audience of 17 people and it was a lovely, intimate atmosphere.  This time I was reading at the Heart Cafe, in Leeds – it was still a lovely, intimate atmosphere, even though there were maybe 30 or so people there – the room was full with just enough chairs for everybody.

It was a really special evening, not least because it was a bit of a repeat of history.  In 2012, the night before my official pamphlet launch at The Wordsworth Trust, Peter Sansom drove specially over to Leeds to drop off a box of my pamphlets at The Heart Cafe so I could do a pre-launch reading there.  I got stuck in traffic, and by the time I’d got there, David Tait had already sold about 20 copies of my pamphlet.  Peter White, who now organises the readings had bought the first copy and came straight up to me and asked me to sign it.

Fast forward three years and I find myself in Leeds again, just two weeks after the book is officially published.  This time I drive over to Leeds the longer way on the A65 instead of using the motorways with the wonderful poet Andrew Forster and my equally wonderful husband Chris, who puts up with us talking about poetry all the way from Grange over Sands to Leeds.  We went straight to get something to eat in a small Greek restaurant and were joined by Lindsey Holland and her daughter and then the lovely Abigail, who used to be an intern at the Wordsworth Trust, and so far has the coveted title of ‘Kim’s favourite intern.’

The box of books has been living under my desk for the last two weeks, since their brief outing into the world at Grange.  I’m not quite sure why, except after that initial impulse to read it cover to cover, I then couldn’t even bear to look at them.  Not because I didn’t like it, but I just wanted to wait to enjoy it until the reading.  It felt a bit like when I was younger.  At Easter my sister and I would both be allowed to eat half of an Easter egg in the morning which we would eat really slowly to annoy each other by being the last one to have any chocolate left.  It felt like if I got the book out of the box before Wednesday it would be like scoffing my easter egg in one go.

Anyway, we got to the reading with moments to spare because the restaurant were quite slow at serving our food.  Andrew and I basically ate a whole leg of lamb in about five minutes.  I felt really bloated and was quite relieved to not have to read till later.

Peter White, who organises the reading series had asked me who I would like to read with me and between us we came up with the poetry dream team of Andrew Forster, Mark Connors, Keith Hutson, John Foggin and I decided to prod Peter into reading, as he has always been a great supporter not just of my poetry, but of poetry and poets in general, and I thought it would be nice to let him have some of the limelight.

I was really touched by the people who turned up to the reading.  There was quite a few people that I didn’t know, but lots that I did.  When I looked round the room, I realised that there were lots of poets sitting there who I’d thanked in my acknowledgements to the book, people that had read various versions of the manuscript and sent comments and feedback.  Clare Shaw was there – the first person I sent the whole sequence of domestic violence poems to.  If she hadn’t been as enthusiastic and excited about them as she was, I would not have sent them to Amy Wack at Seren, telling her that I was thinking of making a pamphlet out of them.  Amy told me they had to go in the collection.  I’m glad she did – that is what an editor is for.  I can’t imagine the book without them now.  It would be like its heart was missing.  Ian Duhig was there and Carola Luther and lots of people that I’d met during my residency in Ilkley, people I met when I ran a workshop at Leeds Writers Circle a few years ago now, my lovely cousin Vicky and her partner Tom, who had never been to a poetry reading before and who I’m hoping are not too traumatised by the whole experience.

John Foggin nearly made me cry three times – once by saying nice things about me, the second time by reading an amazing, amazing poem that I would ask to have for this blog, except that it needs to be published and reach a wider readership than I do here, and then the third time by bringing an early version of my manuscript that I sent him, that he commented on that he has had bound in beautiful leather.  Flicking through it very quickly, one of the main differences was that this earlier version was back to front.

Keith Hutson read a fantastic set of his poems about Troupers – these poems are going to make such a good pamphlet when he puts them altogether.  It was the first time I’d heard Keith do a longer set so that was a real treat.  Andrew Forster was his usual poised self, delivering a perfectly balanced reading of his work, ending with a new poem about his father, which I really enjoyed.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten to mention somebody who turned up, and I apologise if it is you.  It is 11.15pm now and I have till midnight to get this finished, and I’ve only half told you about Wednesday! I wasn’t going to read from the sequence of domestic violence poems because they are by their very nature a bit grim, but then when it came to it, I felt like I had to, because they are a huge part of the book.  There will be readings, I think when I won’t feel able to read them, but this didn’t feel like one of them.  When I’m reading them it feels like I’m standing in a black hole, but I know the way to get out, and that makes all the difference.

You can find some photos of the event here

I sold 24 books on Wednesday, bringing my total sales up to 48. This means I have to write to Seren to order another box of 100 because I’m estimating I will probably sell the last 52 by the end of May.  Boxes of books are a lot more expensive than boxes of pamphlets, so here’s hoping I sell them all.  Failing that, as David Tait says, they make good door stops.

So, that was Wednesday!  The other exciting thing that happened this week was that I took part in the Dalton 10k race.  Last year when I ran this race I’d only been running for a couple of months after a ten year gap and I managed 56 minutes and 56 seconds.  Six months ago, I’d managed 51 and a half minutes for a fairly flat 10k course so I figured if I aimed for as close to 50 minutes as I could get, that was an ambitious enough target, considering I’ve been injured and I’ve not been getting as much training in as I would have liked.

I absolutely loved every minute of the race – and it is really, really tempting here to go into a blow by blow account of every kilometre and give you my splits for each kilometre, but I won’t because I understand, like looking at photos of other people’s children, it’s probably not that interesting for anybody else.  All of those hill runs Chris has been dragging me on so he could look at the mountains definitely paid off, because I actually enjoyed the hilly course. I eventually ended up with a time of 47 minutes 42 seconds, which I still can’t believe.  As in, I don’t know physically how I did that because I certainly haven’t been training at that speed or anything close to it.  Oh well!

On Saturday I volunteered at Barrow Park Run and then spent the rest of the day writing. I bought myself another folder and decided to go through the poems I’ve half started in the last six months and print out any with potential.  Every time I tell myself I’m not writing and then it takes me six months to realise I’ve been writing the whole time, but I haven’t been organised and the poems have been in a rather scruffy looking folder.  You will be glad to hear they are now arranged in my posh new folder, ready to be edited and then make their way into the world.  In the evening I spent time writing up the first assignment for the online course that I’m teaching for The Poetry School, which starts next Wednesday.

I actually felt like a writer for the first time in months.  Not because I had a box of my own collection under my desk, or because I’d done a reading and sold lots of books, but because I was writing.  I might be writing complete dross, but I was writing, for a sustained and concentrate length of time, which I haven’t done for a while, for so long, in fact that I’d forgotten how much I actually enjoy writing.  Even when the poem is destined for nowhere more glamorous than the bin, I still love being in that moment of writing.

Today I’ve been to Printfest in Ulverston with a friend and stocked up on lovely cards and postcards and chocolate brownies and cookies.  This evening I went for a 6 mile run with two friends to try and get some of the Dalton hills out of my legs – I’m not sure if it worked, the hills were definitely still in my legs when I was running!

Today’s Sunday Poem is by Stephanie Green, who I met at Stanza very briefly after going to her reading, where she read alongside D.A. Prince from her pamphlet Flout.  I really enjoyed Stephanie’s reading and took the opportunity of getting my pamphlet signed to ask her if I could use one of her poems here.  Stephanie moved to Edinburgh in 2000 and runs creative writing workshops and reviews Theatre and Dance.  You can order Stephanie’s pamphlet from the fabulous HappenStance  and you can find out more about Stephanie Green here.

I’ve chosen the poem The Njuggle  from Stephanie’s pamphlet.  A definition in the back of the book tells me that a Njuggle is a ‘demon water horse or pony found in Shetland and Orkney folklore’.  I love the story in this poem.  The language that Stephanie uses, like the word ‘scry’ in the second line, seems to fit with that folklore feel and that man’s face rising in the mirror in the third line reminds me of Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘Mirror’ when her face ‘rises towards her like a terrible fish’.  One of the things I love about this poem are the many wonderful words used to describe movement in it.  The piebald pony ‘ambled up’.  His muscles ‘shivered like water in the wind’.  When the Njuggle turns into water he ‘poured through my arms’.

I also love the idea of it – I’ve not heard of an Njuggle before, but the use of transformation in poetry is one I’m interested in at the minute and the story of an animal carrying off a human woman is an old and time-tested story.  The other thing to point out, which I’m sure you will have noticed is the wonderfully tight structure that holds this poem together.  It is very carefully put together.  The first and the third line of each three line stanza rhyme and many of the second lines of each stanza rhyme as well.

I’ve been reading so much Ovid recently, I can’t help thinking of it when I read this poem.  Stanza 4 reminds me of Europa when she is carried off by Jove in the form of a bull, and in the last complete stanza, when the Njuggle turns into water, it reminds me of the women in Ovid’s Metamorphoses who were turned into water to escape the unwanted attentions of one of the gods.

Thank you to Stephanie for letting me use this poem and do feel free to comment underneath, if you feel so moved.

The Njuggle – Stephanie Green

At midnight on Hallowe’en, my back to the moon,
I looked in the mirror to scry my lover-to-be.
His face rose like a drowned man’s.

At twilight I walked by the lochan in the hills
where the whaap’s cry wavers from the reeds.
A piebald pony ambled up.  His nostrils

pulsed as he blew into my hand.
Clicking my tongue, I patted his flanks
and his muscles shivered like water in the wind.

When he lowered his head, I knew I must mount.
I rode him through the night, gripping his back
between my thighs till I slid on our sweat

and he rolled me into cold, green fire.
I clung to his mane blooming with algae,
his shoulders encrusted with mussels and mire.

His hooves softened and opened into a fan
of fingers and toes.  Belly flattening, spine
whip-lashing, he bucked and shrank into a man.

As the dark fled, he turned to plunge me under
but dawn broke and he poured through my arms.
I was alone, calling, calling with no answer,

only the widening circles on the loch.

Sunday Poem – James Caruth


Evening all.  I’ve dragged myself away from editing my collection with great difficulty tonight to write this post – which is strange because I had to really force myself to start editing.  I think I was worried because I knew that there were problems in the manuscript that I needed to sort out and I was panicking, thinking maybe I won’t be able to sort them out, so I didn’t want to start.  I’ve sent the collection out to a few poets and I’ve had lovely feedback from them – all of them identified things they weren’t sure about – some of them they even agreed on (without knowing it).  Today my good friend Noel Williams wrote to me, sending me 12 pages of detailed feedback, going through each poem and in particular focusing on the order of the poems, which is what I’d asked for help with.  So armed with this and combining it with the other feedback I’ve had I’ve finally started sorting the collection out.  My method for this is to re-type the whole thing again, which is risky because I could type mistakes in but it is my way of editing.  I taught myself to touch type when I was about 17 – probably the most useful skill I ever learnt and I love typing.  I like the shapes that words make on the keyboard when you are touch typing and for me it is an important part of editing – it forces me to slow down which is always a good thing.

This afternoon I helped out the Barrow Steelworks Band at a local church service, just playing hymns whilst the congregation sang.  I actually quite enjoyed it – one of the congregation read a really lovely extract from ‘the electric bible’ (what ever that is) but the first line was ‘The clouds are the prophets of god’ or something like that.  I should have written it down.

This morning my alarm didn’t go off and I woke up at 9.30am which left just time to shove a chocolate croissant down and then jump in the car to get down to Roose to go for a run with the Walney Wind Cheetahs.  Because of my disorganisation, I wasn’t in the best of shapes, but I managed 6 miles at a respectable pace.  Yesterday I had a go at beating my PB at the 5km park run which is held every Saturday.  I managed to knock 11 seconds off – I went from 25mins 13 seconds to 25 minutes 4 seconds…so I’m heading the right way to get under 25.

On Wednesday I met up with poets Keith Hutton and Clare Shaw and non poet Jemima at the Endmoor 10k.  Although this race was ridiculously hilly, the organisers provide tea, coffee, squash and cakes at the end to make you forget about the pain.  It actually works as well.  The weather was so nice, we sat on the field for a while afterwards, planning our ‘Flying Poets’ tour where we are somehow going to combine running and poetry…I’ll tell you more when we know more…

This week in general has been a funny old week.  I’ve spent a lot of it driving round to schools and finding I’m not needed or wanted in because the children are on a trip/having a party/doing something more exciting.  It’s still been busy though because my quintet, the South Lakes Brass Ensemble had their first performance as guests at my sisters junior band concert.  It went really well and I really enjoyed playing.

Poetry-wise, three of the poems from my sequence about domestic violence have been published in Poetry Wales this week, which is apparently out now http://poetrywales.co.uk/currentissue/

I have another three poems out in ‘Poem’ which is out next week http://poemmagazine.org/aboutsubscribe/ and I was excited to learn that one of these poems is also going to be included in an issue of The New Humanist.  You can also read the first poem in the sequence, which was published in Poetry News this week on the website here http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/content/membership/mempoems/membpo14/#Moore

The other exciting thing is that, by my records, I’ve sold personally 476 copies of my pamphlet.  I’m not sure how many my publisher has sold.  I’ve always wanted to sell 500 copies myself though so it’s looking like I’m on target to get there! If you would like one, head over to the https://kimmoorepoet.wordpress.com/reviews-and-stuff/.  It comes wrapped in lovely tissue paper…

This week’s Sunday Poem is another one of the winners of the Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition.  I’ve used one of James Caruth’s poems before as the Sunday Poem a while ago, but I asked him for this poem because it made me laugh out loud.  Jim’s poetry is beautiful, lyrical and poised.  His poems are not loud or show offy – they are usually quietly understated so this poem with it’s exaggerations and swagger seemed to show another weapon in Jim’s armour.  This poem also wears its technical achievement lightly – the line breaks are perfectly measured – look at the break at the end of stanza 2 for example after ‘learn’ so we are left hanging, wondering ‘learn what?’ until we reach stanza 3.  And the lovely stanza break at the end of stanza 5.  All of the line breaks in the poem work to reinforce the humour in the poem, as does the repetition of the outrageous claim about the spider’s size.

James Caruth was born in Belfast and lived there until 1982 before moving to Cape Town, South Africa.  He now lives in Sheffield.  His first collection ‘A Stones Throw’ was published by Staple Press in 2007 and a long poem sequence ‘Dark Peak’ was published in pamphlet form by Longbarrow Press in 2008.  ‘Marking the Lambs’ was published by Smith/Doorstop in 2012.  ‘A Spider In The Bath’ comes from Jim’s pamphlet ‘The Death of Narrative’ which was one of the winners of the 2013/14 Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition, judged by Carol Ann Duffy.  You can buy Jim’s two latest pamphlets from the Poetry Business website at http://www.poetrybusiness.co.uk/shop/859/the-death-of-narrative-james-caruth

I hope you enjoy the poem.

A Spider In The Bath – James Caruth

I call her to come and look
at a spider in the bath.
A spider as big as my hand.

She tells me it’s nothing.
Nothing! – It’s as big as my hand.
She tells me I must learn

not to exaggerate my fears
but to take deep breaths, confront my anxieties,

see this spider as big as my hand
for what it is and nothing more.
Tegenaria domestica,

which at this time of year, she adds,
is prone to wandering long distances
in search of a mate.  And what’s more,

I should note its resilience,
how it will survive in its quest for months
without food or water.

She admires the unwavering intent
to follow desire.  I ask her how she knows
so much about this spider as big as my hand.

She looks through me as if studying
a stain she has only just found
on the bathroom tiles,

and says, it has always intrigued her
how, when the act is complete, the female
will turn and eat every last bit of him.