Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Katie Nolen

I love dual meanings when I read poetry – Katie Nolen's poetry induces intellectual thoughts through her profound scenes. (Can you believe someone once told me that poetry is not intellectual? That is a story for another day...) Now, where was I, yes, Katie's work exhibits: bravery, independence and strength. She writes in a manner that leaves the reader to wholeheartedly think and feel. And, in my opinion that is the role of the poet – which she does beautifully!


When a Woman Is Born

When a woman is born
she will find her makeup too heavy.
Her fingers will elongate
and her grasp will become soft leather.
Breasts will slacken and become
supper to her lover's touch
Hips will settle to her satisfaction
She will draw you maps
along the freckles on her arm.
She will pluck the years she has seen
from grey strands on her head
and grey stands on her head
and weave them into stories
When a woman is born
her cheekbones will rise
and she will molt her insecurities
She will throw back her head,
shake out her hair
and offer throaty fits of laughter,
She will be sure-foooted
and an unapologetic
singer in the shower

I can so relate to this piece right now. This past February I turned 43 years old and have enough grey hair – well let's just say it's not in short supply. I knew I was going to grey but not so fast. When I would poke fun at my mother's grey hair – she would always turn to me and say that “each one tells a story.” I found that visual from Katie's poem to be quite intoxicating. To think of the years we've lived and each of us with our stories to tell amplified by each individual hair. When a Woman is Born has a Benjamin Button feel to it – all the things that happen to us while we age – what if? And, this is one doozie of a what if? But, what if we were born old and became younger with each passing year. To have the wisdom throughout the ages with no years lived. If only!


You're sprawled across
a Sunday morning mattress,
a slovenly lump
of seaty brow, flushed skin,
and matted hair.

I lie in soft breath
and whispers
next to your heaviness:
entranced by legions of rain
stinging the windows
until it slows and surrenders
in defeat

You murmur and tell only
the pillow your secrets.
And I think, I know
I must have told you
it's impossible
to wash that much grease
from your hands.

But you're always elbow deep
and now it's all over the sheets
and all over me.

And I think, I too.
Have surrendered in defeat.

Sigh! First off it being Wednesday today – who wants to retreat to the soft comfort of their bed right now – I know, I would. I found it quite thoughtful how Katie uses the word surrender both in the middle and at the end of this piece. It organically ties everything together nicely. I would have to say these are my favourite stanzas:

But you're always elbow deep
and now it's all over the sheets
and all over me.

And I think, I too.
Have surrendered in defeat.

Sometimes, there is nothing that we can do but surrender defeat – it has got to be one of the most humbling experiences ever. I loved the way Katie placed her words – she is speaking about grease yes but it could also be physiological transference as well as physical. The duality in my opinion add such depth.


This is the stealing of my essence
and I am being vast out of myself.

I was a woman
who would not tame her hair
and could not tame her heart.

I sat with my legs open;
eyes, too lusty and green.
Plucked from earth,
muddy thighs and apricot smiles.
I was crawling over tables
playing with my food.

You drank me up from your water dish.

I am dying.
I am dying.
And you are killing us both.

I must have read this piece half a dozen times and the same scene came to mind half a dozen times while I started to think about other aspects of this poem. I started to think of the movie Brave how Merida had to fight for her rights to simply be who she is. Or, it could be about a woman who is emotionally abused who's allowed another to not only leave her washed up on the sea shore but; take everything from her including her pride and dignity. See duality.. Either side could be argued. One however must admit the beauty behind this piece.


For more information on Katie Nolen please follow her on Instagram.