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Kay Syrad website
in the shop…
joint collections with artist Chris Drury –
East Port and
“Poetry & Prose Exchange”
Elephant Press; novels –
“The Milliner and the Phrenologist”,
Kay Syrad is Poetry Editor of the longstanding journal, Envoi. She is currently working on a new poetry collection, due out with Cinnamon Press in spring, 2021.
Since early 2018, Kay has been co-running (with Clare Whistler) a series of eco-poetics courses, at the environmental and social justice space ONCA Gallery in Brighton, at the pioneering rewilded estate, Knepp Wildland in West Sussex, and at the 2019 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. This year she and Clare will also be running courses for Sussex Wildlife Trust, and publishing a third anthology of eco-poetry written by participants on their courses (Poemish & Other Languages; Poemish of the Wildland (both 2019, Elephant Press) and forthcoming 2020 Fabrication: Slip back to source, a journey of natural materials (also Elephant Press).
Kay’s second volume of poetry, Inland (Cinnamon, 2018) has been described as a ‘truly special collection’, in which ‘the live words’, convey ‘a mystical state of both being and witnessing.’ (Elizabeth Ridout, AGENDA). Kay’s new pamphlet, t/here: a poetic glossary of human and non-human migration (East Port, 2019), with images from Chris Drury’s camera obscura Horizon Line Chamber is reviewed by Lisa Dart in Tears in the Fence, where she writes ‘To read t/here is to travel, through scale and space; through metaphysics and mind; through evolution and art; through arrivals and departures.’
Kay’s poetry has been published in many journals and anthologies and has won prizes or been commended in a number of competitions. Her first collection, Double Edge, was published by Pighog Press in 2012, described by Kate Foley as ‘a sophisticated and accomplished first collection where knowledge is never merely knowing but lit with unexpected insights and human sympathy.’ In a Poetry London review of earlier work, Carol Rumens described Kay as ‘sensitive to the textures of language […] wittily sensuous [… and] something of a formalist […]’. She also writes fiction: her first novel, The Milliner and the Phrenologist, was published in 2009 (reprinted 2012), and her second novel, Send, was published in 2015 (both Cinnamon Press).
Kay often collaborates with visual artists, dancers and musicians. In 2008 she produced a collection of poems with photographs by award-winning photographer Gina Glover (Objects of Colour: Baltic Coast, Foxhall Publishing). She has co-created text works with performer and artist Clare Whistler, for the Art:Language:Location project in Cambridge (2013) and the Telling Stories exhibition at Kaleidoscope Gallery, Sevenoaks, in 2014; the two recently shared a poets’ residency in Suffolk, studying hedgerows. Kay was the commissioned writer on a multi-media ACE-funded project, Last Station (2013-14) about the history of the light vessels that until recently were stationed around Britain’s coasts, and her artist’s book work of the lightship men: 1000 tasks was bought by the National Maritime Museum for their permanent collection. For this project she also wrote the libretto for a new choral piece with music by jazz improviser Trevor Watts (The Light Vessel). She has collaborated with artist Chris Drury, too, most recently on a Cape Farewell project (2014-15) working with organic farmers in Dorset and producing a book of poetry, prose and prints, Exchange (Little Toller, 2015).
Review comment on Double Edge:
[This collection has…] a palette of sometimes shocking intensity, where analysis rubs shoulders with wild leaps of exuberant celebration of creatures, colours, objects and people. Moreover, these swags of rich description are set in verse of impeccable and often formal craft.
Kate Foley, ARTEMISpoetry, Issue 9, 2012