Kathleen Jones

Kathleen Jones: Featured Poet

On Leaving Children

You always imagined they
would be the ones to leave
with tears and suitcases.
Not you, packing the car at night
taking only what you know
they won’t need.

Not good at leaving are you?
Tripped by that long cord
you thought was cut at birth
still pulsing with maternal blood.

Clumsy with failure
star of your own tragedy
you step out into childless silence
bereaved by your own exit.


Kathleen Jones has been described by Carol Ann Duffy as ‘a powerful female voice’. She performed in Bristol with Pat VT West and Liz Loxley as part of the ‘Invisible Lipstick’ poetry group and they published two pamphlets Invisible Lipstick and Rumours of Another Sky. Her first solo pamphlet of poetry, Unwritten Lives, won the Redbeck Press pamphlet award and her first full collection, Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21, was joint winner of the Straid Collection award, and published by Templar Poetry in November 2011. Kathleen is also a biographer and short fiction writer, author of a life of Christina Rossetti, Learning not to be First [OUP] and A Passionate Sisterhood [Virago], a group biography of the sisters, wives and daughters of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey. Her most recent biography, Katherine Mansfield: The Story-Teller, was published by Penguin and EUP in 2011.

Kathleen’s home is in Cumbria, but as her partner is a sculptor working in Italy she spends a lot of time flying between the two on budget airlines! She has taught creative writing in a number of universities and is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow.

Visit her website here
Kathleen blogs here.

Kathleen in reading at The Green Pub, Clerkenwell Green, London on the 11th April at 7.30pm

5 thoughts on “Kathleen Jones: Featured Poet”

  1. I enjoyed the poem very much, Kathleen – especially the way you skillfully weave together the metaphor of the umbilical cord and that “clumsy with failure” line. That’s sticking with me…the image and the feeling.



  2. This is a poem that I found a surprise – and I like that. I almost tripped over that cord myself 🙂 There are some great lines – “star of your own tragedy” and that wonderful last line “bereaved by your own exit”. The “childless silence” is quite haunting.

    Thanks for this – it has left me with a lasting image. A really strong and thought provoking poem.

  3. I truly learned the length and durability of the umbilical cord when first our four-year-old daughter, Rebecca, died following a liver transplant in 1985, and just as vividly when we were returning from my stepson’s (Anne’s son’s) first rented house when he had finally decided he needed to live away from home – boxes of stuff and copious tears were very much the order of the day. The highest praise I can give the poem by Kathleen Jones is envy that yearns to have come up with something half as poignant. Tx to Kathleen & Abegail.

  4. Thanks for your moving comments everyone. It was a very difficult moment in my own life and hard to put into poetry without being over-emotional. I’m glad you think I managed to convey it effectively. Christopher – I’m so sorry about your daughter, Until you have children you just don’t realise …..

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