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Katrina Naomi - Poetry in Progress

Our Emotional Archaeology writer-in-residence Katrina Naomi shares some work-in-progress.

The photographs above were taken from the notebooks Katrina wrote in during her first week at Arnolfini, writing in response to Daphne Wright's exhibition (you can read more about her experiences here).

From these initial notes, the poem Spared began to take shape. It takes references to Domestic Shrubbery [pictured], the sculptural installation in Gallery 4, and weaves them in to an ambivalent visioning of romance.

The latest version of the poem is here:



I have found seven hearts

   lost one     found six more     They hang

like Xmas decs on a wedding tree so much bad

   wallpaper     And I’m unsure

if I’m indoors     or out

   The trellis shifts

for some unseen bird that comes

   like a suitor

not one you’ll welcome

   if you know what I know

A normal asylum then this

   a century of roses and killer-birds

all too ready to tip breathing hearts

   from the nest     for these are the rules

of marriage     Such a common

   selective     madness

wisdom     caught on a white rose briar     So brittle

   this pale domesticity     I could snap

your wishbone     White crowds

   a room     walls unable to march

back or forth     And so many choose

   this space     where all ties are

severed for the ice and snow

   of love     its crazed pattern

of fracture and fall

   Every girl’s dream     for a veil

to render her beautiful     as we fail

   to look a suitor in the face

for we have been sold     Nothing

   here is straight     We see shadows

of ourselves     the door slowly barred

   with so much love     There is no such thing

as claustrophobia     Trust me

   I am perfectly safe here     can only hear

one bird     the killer-bird     out of season

   its suitor voice plays

to all the seasons of my life

   an extreme bird then    a favourite

yet you will not find her

   among the neon lights of sky

for I am one to have been



All of these drafts can be viewed in our Reading Room, along with some of Katrina's recent publications.


Katrina Naomi will be presenting her work in person at Arnolfini on Saturday 3 December.

 Our next writer-in-residence will be in position between January and March next year. This will be hosted in collaboration with Spike Island as part of the Art Writing Programme curated by The Art Writer's Group.

Check our website for future opportunities for writers-in-residence.

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Thursday 24 October 2019, 18:30 to 20:00

£12 / £10 / £5 + BF Book

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