Poems to share


I said perhaps Patagonia, and pictured
a peninsula, wide enough
for a couple of ladderback chairs
to wobble on at high tide. I thought

of us in breathless cold, facing
a horizon round as a coin, looped
in a cat’s cradle strung by gulls
from sea to sun. I planned to wait

till the waves had bored themselves
to sleep, till the last clinging barnacles,
growing worried in the hush, had
paddled off in tiny coracles, till

those restless birds, your actor’s hands,
had dropped slack into your lap,
until you’d turned, at last, to me.
When I spoke of Patagonia, I meant

skies all empty aching blue. I meant
years. I meant all of them with you.


© Kate Clanchy

With kind permission of the poet

Kate Clanchy

Kate Clanchy is a poet, playwright and teacher, as well as being the Forward Arts Foundation official Education Advisor. Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me has been described by Philip Pullman as “the best book on children and teaching and writing that I’ve ever read”. It is the companion volume to England: Poems from a School, an anthology of poetry by her students at Oxford Spires Academy, a state secondary school where 32 languages are spoken.

She won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 1996 and was Oxford’s first City Poet, from 2011 to 2013. She’s also written many radio plays. Clanchy was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2018. Her new book, Grow Your Own Poem: A How-To Book, will be published September 2020.