Friday Poem – ‘On Suitors’ by Katrina Naomi


This week’s Friday Poem is ‘On Suitors’ by Katrina Naomi from her collection Wild Persistence.

This cover shows a black and white photo of three dancers in 1940s style dress jumping with toes pointed. They are facing each other in a circle with their arms stretched out. The text reads: Wild Persistence, Katrina Naomi

Katrina Naomi’s this collection Wild Persistence is a confident and persuasive collection of poems. From the first poem we are warned to be on guard for the off-guard, to suspend our expectations of pure realism and to stay awake for what comes next. Though never didactic, the poetic voice convinces us of the need to live well, to take time to celebrate, dance, make love, embrace the outdoors, muse over the biography of someone admirable, make a stand for feminism.

On Suitors
Emily Dickinson had the right idea
speaking with her suitors through a door
seeking to be swayed not by gifts or looks
but by the qualities of a voice –
what a person has to say, the essence
of intonation, distilled with wit and intelligence.
To listen, to listen only, and imagine
the kind of man or woman
outside. And I think of Skype, the similarities
of talking without pixilation’s dull entreaties
to see and be seen. I am freeing
myself in this lovely prison of my making.
I prefer isolation. And when they come,
I stay in my room, leave them
at the foot of the stairs; I stay alone,
I’m not being rude but I choose to listen
to the syntax, the accent, the colour
of a voice, not to be wooed by a suitor,
how they choose to show
themselves, how they modify or allow
their words to be uttered, whether they are found
worth listening to, whether they listen in return.
There are those who’ve tried thrusting
photos under doors, onto screens. The good looking
I won’t tolerate, let alone the rest. I do not discriminate.
I’ll allow a suitor to ruminate –
briefly. I want to fall in love with a voice
and then – only then – decide on a face.
You’re welcome to whisper at a keyhole,
to speak by the pale green wall.
Without mystery there can be no drunkenness
of love. And you may have guessed –
like Emily – I’ve no real interest in release.

Wild Persistence is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Watch Katrina Naomi read ‘Poem in Which She Wears Her Favourite Wedding Dress’

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