Introducing Kaycee Hill

This week we have another terrific new young poet to share with you. Kaycee Hill is based in Bristol where she’s currently studying an MA in Creative Writing. She won the James Berry Poetry prize 2021 and was selected for the Poetry Ambassadors scheme. Her poem for the ‘After Sylvia Challenge’ was commended by the Young Poets Network. Kaycee’s debut collection Hot Sauce is published by Bloodaxe Books in October 2023. Here is her powerful poem Pendulum and below Kaycee writes about her poetry.

Pendulum

On a bench with a broken back

a woman smokes a cigarette,

the dog-end glows – ashes.

I am stuck in the city’s throat,

nobody knows me here.

My eyes roam tarmac veins

& overhead, sky so saccharine

you can virtually taste it.

Stood in a charity shop’s cavity

I watch it blaze & fade.

I see my Mum’s cinnamon stick

fingers busy making roll-ups,

allotting them in tidy rows.

The woman’s face appears

from the smoke like a prophet.

A pigeon tucks into nothing.

I offer out my hands to the cold,

here they are – open & empty.

Time drags her battered hems.

Growing up in a working-class, mixed-heritage household – British and Caribbean – I was raised on poetry outside of the canon, from lyricists and hip-hop artists such as Lauren Hill, Floetry, and Sade, as well as dub poets like Lillian Allan and Benjamin Zephaniah. This highly communicative, visceral way of connecting with people has undoubtedly influenced the decision to dedicate my life to crafting poetry. When writing my poems, I often use a voyeuristic approach and play with juxtaposing concrete images, to ground them in the ‘real’. I am especially interested eco-poetics, exploring the female body and the intricacies of growing up in an urban-pastoral landscape.

I wrote Pendulum after a period of intense homesickness, when I was feeling out of place in the city I was living in and craving a sense of community. The scene in Pendulum mirrors the voice’s mood, which goes on to trigger a specific and tender memory — I see my Mum’s cinnamon stick fingers busy making roll-ups / allotting them in tiny rows. The end line — Time drags her battered hems — aims to sum up how painfully slow the passing of time feels when you’re in an emotional slog. Family is, of course, a fundamental part of our identity and I tend to revisit those archetypes time and time again in my poetry. As Gwendolyn Brooks expertly put it: we are each other’s business.

Look out for introductions to more young poets in January 2023.

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