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Threads by Kate Ennals reviewed by Dave Kavanagh

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Kate Ennals


This is a beautiful book by Cavan based poet Kate Ennals. It takes us on a journey through experience, the poet’s own, and through her eyes those of others. The collection charts life both in Ireland and in England and in a larger context it examines the world we now live in. 

The collection comprises three parts

Familiar Threads 

This section of the work deals with a dysfunctional relationship between daughter and mother.

Cuckoo, the opening poem of the section sets the tone with the closing line 

Before I arrived, my mother was beautiful.

The poet moves from childhood to adulthood and to the death of her mother. She deals with both rejection and dejection and finally an acceptance that her relationship with her mother is part of what shaped her. Some of this might have been harrowing, (casual emotional neglect, and the charting of a slow death) but Kate’s writing brings the reader along as a willing voyeur.

She speaks with honesty and openness in this section and the poems are all accessible and relatable. She gives us intimate glimpses of shared work and close living. In Washing Day we see mother and daughter contrasted. And in A Child Of The Sixties she tells us, A woman bears fruit like a Greek bears gifts.

There is a beautiful juxtaposition of poems between The Feed on page 26 and A Word on page 27. The former detailing the relationship formed in adulthood as her mother approached death, ending with the line 

And when she finally milked me dry/ I fed her motherhood and apple pie.

The latter showing a silent child watching her mother, neither giving more than needed to the relationship. The final line of this 

As you command/Know that I have watched you/All this time without saying a word.

Thread of Thought

This section is angry, laconic, witty and cynical. The poems record the poet’s feelings on a diverse range of subjects including politics, Brexit, poverty, bankers and global terrorism and are all written with an easy style that disguises the craft, as all good writing should. 

Opening with In The Hands of White Men, Kate gives us a different take on Kipling’s White Man’s Burden. Throughout the section she ponders such inscrutable topics as needless death, the seventh estate and rising disquiet in America. 

The brilliant Belfast Wardrobe uses images from C. S. Lewis’s Narnia, shown side by side with stark and real images from the history of the province’s Loyalist traditions. 

World News Service examines how tragedy can be overwhelming. This piece concludes with the wonderful line. 

At 5:20 Susan Ray welcomes me to Radio Four/ The shipping forecast mops my brow.

The section finishes with the striking The Day After recording the mundanity of the normal passage of days; the poet moves through life telling us she, Opened the curtains/wrote a poem/turned on the oven

then juxtaposes this with.

Today Is the day after for the pastor in Texas/Whose daughter was shot yesterday at his church service/Tomorrow I think will be my mothers.

Threads of Others.

A tangled thread of reminiscence and storytelling and the poet at her unconstrained best.

The second poem of the section First Love in LIDL is in the visual and aural sense stunning to this reader. The poet recalls a tryst beneath a Sycamore tree in a place that now stands at the centre of a LIDL store. And Portrait of my Lovers is funny and beautifully acerbic.

The section contains nods to poets such as Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and a very different take on Rupert Brooke’s The Soldier ending with Please think of me… so I don’t disappear. I can safely say for a poet like Kate with lots more in the tank, there is little chance of that.

Purchase link 


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