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Derbyshire Poet Katharine Towers

Katharine Towers is swiftly gaining a reputation as one of the country’s most exciting new poets.

Floating Man book by Katherine TowersHer poetry has been lauded by numerous critics and reviewers, with The Guardian in particular praising her ‘delicacy and originality of thought’.  


If we stand in woods after rain 
when the trees are iron and purple 
like wine, we’ll put off our leaving –

not to wait for the woollen comfort of dusk 
or to hear the wind flinching back 
from the heart to let it be quiet and still

but to stand in the iron and purple 
of evening, our stories behind us 
like toys we’ve forgotten or lost

and enter at last the place in the heart 
the place in the dark of the heart 
where there’s nothing, not even weather. 

Katharine was born in London and read Modern Languages at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford.  In 2007 she completed an MA in Writing at Newcastle University. 

Her first collection of poems, The Floating Man, was published by Picador in 2010 and was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

The collection was also awarded the prestigious Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for Poetry (2011).  In addition to this the work was further longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, and the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.

On this page we are proud to be able to reproduce three of Katharine Towers’ poems. Opening the page we have ‘Weather’ and further down you can read the poems ‘The Glass Piano,’ and ‘Childhood’. These appear in the poetry collection In Your Own Time: The Northern Poetry Workshop Anthology (ed. Gerry Wardle, Shoestring Press, 2012).


These criss-cross lines printed on the snow 
are bones of trees laid bare by the moon. 
We should not be looking so hard

at what a tree would rather keep to itself. 
Would we not fear to be shown 
how like replicas we are, and how mechanical?

The joints and angles run across the field 
complicating into knotty webs of twigs 
no stronger than our fingers.

We could play that childhood game, stepping out 
along the branches – pretending to teeter – 
as if we still believed we couldn’t fall. 

The glass piano

No, I did not swallow or inhale the glass piano; 
it has grown inside me like a crystal in salt water

or an alien cell, accreting string after string and keys 
until one day I reached the full eight octaves.

Inside where I should be soft plush I’m sharp, 
my lungs a dark moth pinned by the piano’s lid

while my heart keeps time to the keyboard’s dip and lift. 
Some days I’m loud: I growl bass chords

or sigh chromatically from A to middle C, 
play a waltz or gigue and make notes hurtle from my skin.

Still I keep my distance; clasped or grasped I’ll shatter 
endlessly, describing all the themes and variations. 

About the author

This feature article was written by Ed Downey, a Nottingham University PhD student who spent 15 weeks on a paid-placement working on the Arts Derbyshire project in 2012. 

If you would like a published feature on your work, get in touch with us by email at  

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