Series Editor - Jim Bennett     

Introduction by Jim Bennett


Hello.  Welcome to the next in the series of CITN featured poets.  We will be looking at the work of a different poet in each edition and I hope it will help our readers to discover some new and exciting writing.  This series is open to all to submit and I am now keen to read new work for this series.


You can join the CITN mailing list at - http://www.poetrykit.org/pkl/index.htm and following the links for Caught in the Net.







.The man pushing a buggy with one hand
whinged that he'd fancied sleeping late -
'No bloody chance,' he snarled
at his wide awake, bouncing baby.
Single file, bikeriding children emerged
like a score of rise and fall crotchets,
teeming out from the Fat Man's Squeeze,
the skinniest cat-piss alley on the estate.

                 from; Band of Hope by Catherine Graham





I Beg to Apply for the Post

Making Clogs at Gallowgate

I'm Not Struck On Her Upstairs

The Hoppings Comes to Town Moor
Losing Stripes
When the Ship Sails...
Miss Butterworth
Band of Hope


1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Catherine Graham


Catherine Graham is a Northern Voices Poetry Award winner (2008). She won the 2007 Northumberland Writers' Special Award for the poet showing most promise. Adjudicator, Pat Borthwick describes Catherine's poems as being  ' from the heart. They have real life-force within them.' Catherine was adult winner of the DfES 2005 National Anti-Bullying poetry competion with her poem Break this Chain adjudicated by a panel of writers including Meera Syal. Her poem, Watch Light  was a recommended poem in Pulsar's 2006/2007 poetry competition. Catherine's work has appeared in a number of magazines in the UK and Ireland as well as on the web. Some of her poems are included in the following anthologies: Two Rivers Meet (Revival Press, Ireland and Northern Voices, 2008). The Book of Ten (Zebra Publishing, editors Jeff Price and Annie Moir, 2009). Gaps in the Sequence (The Stemistry Project, editor Lisa Matthews, 2009.) Nine 'Til Five (ID on Tyne Press, editor Sheree Mack, 2008). From Segedunum to the Spanish City (Northern Voices, editor Keith Armstrong, 2010). Crab Lines off the Pier (Indigo Dreams Publishing, editors Ronnie Goodyer and Dawn Bauling, 2010). The Stony Thursday Book ( Arts Office of Limerick City Council, Ireland, editor Ciaran O'Driscoll 2009.) Other poets in this anthology include amonst others: Fleur Adcock, Robert Hass, Paul Muldoon and Catherine Smith.


Catherine's poem When the Ship Sails Up Dean Street inspired childrens' art/writing in the Hidden Rivers Project, (lead artist Paul Clifford) Newcastle, 2005.

Her poem Wallflowers was the inspiration for artist Charlie Carter's public art sculptures in the Stanhope Street Regeneration Project, Newcastle 2009.


Commissioned work includes the poem, I Beg to Apply for the Post written for the Jack Common Celebration Day, October 2010.


Catherine's first chapbook collection, Signs, is published by ID on Tyne Press, June 2010. The title poem, Signs was written at a poetry masterclass led by Sean O'Brien who describes it as 'very strong'.







The following two poems are from the book "Signs" Pub; ID on Tyne press 2010


Making Clogs at Gallowgate
for Doris
I let him believe I'm fourteen; old enough
to be a clog-maker. The rough, green overall
tied tight around my waist gives me the figure
I haven't got: I comb my fringe to the side.
Uppers hang in the workshop like kippers;
the genuine smell of leather all around.
Gripping the sycamore sole between my legs,
I squeeze my knees together, like mam
says I always should, and hammer like hell
at the horse-shoe, braying the nails into the wood:
Slicing leather with the sharpest knife in the world;
my hands bleeding, like Christ up on the cross.
Soon I'll be promoted to stretching the skins
over metal lasts, if I keep my head down.
My workmates are five sisters, all would-be
opera singers. Listen, you can hear them
even now: Si tu ne m'aimes pas prend garde ŕ toi!
And old Ebanezer next door, stitching:
Our would-be baritone. Every morning
we're greeted by a long-tail that runs along the pipes.
The same R.A.T. (for it's unlucky to say the word),
comes out again at noon, scurrying around
like a frantic clerk of works, on the look out
for idle crumbs. The loud clock ticka ticka ticka ticks
its way to Friday when the shop window is filled
with beautiful black clogs, perched in pairs
on shelves, like lovebirds, and I collect my
seven and six. That's when I leave work
by the front door, so I can pass the window -
and Fenwick's with its felt hats and blouses
made from the finest of satins and silks.

I Beg to Apply for the Post
after Jack Common
My school was tough:
The teachers weighed in,
Tipping the scales with their red pencils,
Their toxic, chalk dust.
I beg to apply for the post.
Like you, my father learned shorthand;
Attended evening class at the colliery.
A cacophony of skills, don't you think?
Like my mother, singing opera in the scullery.
Beware of the man who wants marriage,
Isn't that what you told your readers?
My father taught me to ride a bike
And not depend on stabilizers.
He hated smarmy men the most.
I beg to apply for the post.
No silver spoons in our house.
Our doorstep was donkey-stoned.
We refused to be shoved into snobbery,
Refused to give up the ghost
When they refurbished The Dwellings
And named it Millennium Court.
Ashes to ashes, communities to dust.
I beg to apply for the post.
I've never failed to fit in,
Never lived in a culture vacuum.
Why, our backlane was a canvas
To the local graffiti artist.
I beg to apply for the post.
Brought up on Dickman's pies
But I never mince my words.
I don't give anything I don't want to.
I don't go about hard-faced.
I'm not fighting any class-war
In silk-lined, kid gloves:
I have a voice, I haven't lost faith.
I'm taking on life bare-knuckled,
This kiddar's luck has changed.
I don't believe in the twaddeI
I read in most of the papers.
I know when to tell the truth;
When to spout the necessary lie.
I learned all this at my cost -
I beg to apply for the post.
I would supply references
From my previous employer
Though, fair to say there was no love lost.
He had ideas above my station:
His wife was all fur coat.
More edge than a broken piss-pot.
I beg to apply for the post.
I pride myself on being punctual;
Always on the dot.
I don't pretend or hope to be
What I'm definitely not.
I tick all of the boxes -
I call salmon paté, salmon paste.
I know my place but I don't like to boast.
I beg to apply for the post.


I'm Not Struck On Her Upstairs
She has loud sex.
Passes me on the stairs -
her and her Waitrose carrier bags.
All skimmed milk
and muesli,
you know the sort.
Only smiles with her face.
Them downstairs think she's great
but I have to listen to her
panting like an Olympian,
hitting notes like a sex-crazed soprano.
I turn up my radio:
tune in to Night Owls.
Her man wants a medal like a frying pan
for putting up with all that grief.
Him with his voice like velvet.
His eyes like Omar Sharif.




The Hoppings Comes to Town Moor
We set off straight after school:
four aunts, mam and a tank of a woman
who called herself Aunty Mary. I preferred
to stay close to Aunt Edie, unmarried and working
at the Co-op. A razzmatazz of lightbulbs flashed
around the moor like a painfree migraine.
As the music grew louder we could see masses
of Lowry people all heading for the rides.
Chart-topping records invited us to join the party:
Del Shannon, Brenda Lee and Elvis - Aunt Edie loved Elvis.
As if battery-operated, two aunts began to bop.
Overcome by a warm cowpat, they stopped
and nipped their noses like synchronised swimmers.
Scarier than the Ghost Train, the sight of Aunty Mary
in the Hall of Mirrors was - bewildering. Of course,
I wasn't allowed to ride anything dangerous
but the excitement of prize-bingo was infectious.
Aunt Martha hooked a duck; mam complained
about the lack of decent coconuts and we all took a shine
to the goldfish with black spots. We called it Billy
after Billy the Fish, da's best pal at the Black Bull.
Emerging from the fortune-teller's moonlit caravan,
Aunt Edie suggested it was time to leave -
Rosa Lee had obviously read the wrong script.
All the way home, Aunt Edie hummed that song from G.I. Blues.
I could have told her, marrying Elvis was never on the cards.

There's a wall where the lasses sit.
Age is no barrier on the wall, it's not high.
Generations of women sit there
together, as if in an old photograph;
the mother always in the middle -
only moving when the ice-cream van pulls up
and belts out its ear-bashing version of Match of the Day.
Then there's big Davey, the Dublin lad
with his steel capped boots and tan.

He's great with the kids: Caused a stir last week
when he pleaded with the lasses -
'Would wun of you at least find a man of your own -
this wun's calling me Da and I'm not having it!'
Lasses just laughed and told him to stick
the kettle on.
Meet Billy the Brush doing his weekly sweep,
pushing his barrow as if uphill.
The kind of man who, if it rained soup would have a fork.
God love him for no-one else will - except Mary
who only sits on the wall on Fridays.
Seems like everything's been tried,
to foil the vandals and keep them sweet:
Youth-clubs, potted plants, swings - you name it.
But they leave the wall alone.
Season after beautiful season
the lasses sit on the wall.
And Pat's arse, like a conference pear,
loves me - loves me not - loves me - loves me not.



She welcomes with a smile as wide as the Tyne:
This city celebrates different voices.
Her daughters sold clothes, second-hand at Sandgate
as the boats sailed like long-lost lovers into Dean Street,
keeping their promise.
Reborn, her lassie sings a brand new song,
silencing the battalion of buses
that bully past the building societies,
while the lads that once danced for their daddies
push bairns in buggies, with one hand.
And still, people remain puddled
by the play of her spirited, underground rivers
that flow, like lifeblood right up to Spital Tongues.
She is a carnival of bridges skinning a heron-coloured sky.
Flooded with pride, she lands her logo
like kisses, on lamp-posts in Grey Street.


Losing Stripes
it was the tune that was playing,
rippling across the fields from the dance-hall.
Or a letter he'd opened
that morning
with its whisper of Coty perfume
that persuaded him
to pity his young prisoner
and allow them to meet at the gates.
Whatever the war-torn reason,
he told him to hold her close.
The darkest sun
will burn more brightly
every time you close your eyes
and see her face.

The following poem, written for children, was a winner in the Seven Stories Centre for Children's Books competition

and inspired children's art/writing in the Hidden Rivers Project.
When the Ship Sails
Up Dean Street . . .
Weapons will melt
like winter snow
and we'll wake up -

Rain will remember
to fall on Africa
and we'll bring in the crops -

Rivers will rush
to meet sapphire seas
and the polluters will say -
"We're sorry . . ."

Doorways will offer
a welcome
and not just a cardboard box -

Food will be spread
across the world's table
and we'll take just what we need -

Peacemakers will
persuade politicians
to hear what they have to say -

And we'll echo the dream
for tomorrow:
But we'd help it happen today -
Miss Butterworth
after Michael McCarthy
We learned about rhyme
from Miss Butterworth:
(Give us this day
the right to change her name.)
Todd's Nook School, circa 1960.
She was strange.
We learned about the belt
and how to stand in her bin
if we couldn't find the right answers.
John Robson said he hated Mondays,
I dreaded Sunday nights:
Back to the big black building
and railings and sleepless nights.
Miss Butterworth wore tweed skirts,
she was scary. Scratched me
as she grabbed my cardigan -
I think it was accidental:
Said she'd wipe the smile off my face:
Looking back, I think she was mental.


Band of Hope
And Glory, when eleven visitors
landed on our street this morning, at ten.
Eleven line-dried white shirts
partnering eleven ebony ties
like proud, upright piano keys.
Blood-red banded, black peaked hats
confirmed their Belonging -
A sudden choir of non-rust voices
announced their arrival.
And people came out.
The couple in faded blue denim:
She made no attempt to disguise
his unfaded gift above her left eye.
He smoked, smugly.
The man pushing a buggy with one hand
whinged that he'd fancied sleeping late -
'No bloody chance,' he snarled
at his wide awake, bouncing baby.
Single file, bikeriding children emerged
like a score of rise and fall crotchets,
teeming out from the Fat Man's Squeeze,
the skinniest cat-piss alley on the estate.
Calling out football chants, they encircled
the Chorus and continued to pedal
around and around
like a ballsy shoal of baleful sharks:
Hooded half-minims.
Twin girls, blonde and red-freckled
formed the front stalls;
their teething sister straddling a bony hip.
Lovingly, they mopped up her pain-drenched,
rosebud mouth with an off-white, flannelette bib.
Three brassed off mothers suspended, briefly,
the talk on the street, then carried on - fortissimo.
And the boy in the background, pint-size,
(makes money watching cars on Match days)
leaned against the notice-bearing lamp-post:
'Hey Mister, are you the army?
Ma says her boyfriend's joined the army:
Went away.
Sometimes, she goes and sees 'im;
catches the 'special bus' on Saturdays.'

Sometimes he'd bring home
of brand new chocolate bars
and mis-shaped
wafer biscuits in a silvery tin.
His big delivery van
would roll up
onto the cobbles and mmm
the smell of Rowntrees jelly
on his tall brown gaberdine.


3 - Afterword

Email Poetry Kit - info@poetrykit.org    - if you would like to tell us what you think.  We are looking for other poets to feature in this series, and are open to submissions.  Please send one poem and a short bio to - info@poetrykit.org

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