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Caitlin Stobie



the poet

Born in South Africa, Caitlin Stobie holds a PhD from the University of Leeds where she lectures in Creative Writing. She's won both the Douglas Livingstone Creative Writing Competition, and the Heather Drummond Memorial Prize for Poetry. South African literary journal New Contrast named Caitlin one of the country’s ‘rising stars’ in poetry. Her debut collection Thin Slices appeared in November 2022 – the manuscript of which was shortlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize. An earlier version was also shortlisted for the RædLeaf International Poetry Award.

the poems

Five Ways of
Looking at a Period

00:00 / 01:48


                        A ruined pool party.

                        Cat-scratch in the pants.

                        Thighs tight and plastic-wrapped.

                        Luxury cotton towel sex.
                        Soggy apologies like I’m-on-my.


                        Peach’s pit-flesh.

                        Cherryburst anemone.

                        Pomegranate plasma.

                        Beet-cloaked clover.

                        Hibiscus nimbus.


                        Brings muddy sleep, long as gumtrees.

                        Quenches anxiety with slippy lip sap.

                        Approves full-bellied foods, potatoes, ginger root.

                        Pulls distraction’s tubers and unearths certainty.

                        Teaches how to stand being lonely.


                        When eggs crack jokes about coming first.

                        When proteins drag blush over queenly cheeks.

                        When lipids birth another month’s dead doulas.

                        When sickle cells group under coven moons.

                        Hello, capillaries. Hello again, iron age friends.


                        Cramping coloured like conception’s twinge.

                        Craving the ever-ready chocolate advent.

                        Carving papayas with turmeric fingers.

                        Wishing for its mercurochrome tinge.

                        Then, sudden puddle of thank-fuck.


00:00 / 00:36

                        In Zulu

                        there is no difference

                        between like

                        and love.

                        Between 'I want to hold your hand'

                        and 'Can I see your ring finger?'

                        Between wanting to know where you stand

                        and wanting a one-night stand.

                        Between the sheets,

                        between two lives,

                        just one phrase makes it

                        come together.

                        I’m still not sure

                        whether open interpretation

                        makes love

                        easier, or just

                        lost in translation.

Even Birds

For Faith

00:00 / 01:12

                                    We arrive in Cambridge

                                    after a long night’s flight:

                                    eighteen twenty-somethings

                                    with a hangover of Africa.

                                    What really matters, the man says,

                                    is everyone’s comfort.

                                    We wouldn’t want anyone

                                    to be out

                                    of place.

                                    Don’t ask and don’t confess

                                    potential transgressions.

                                    This is a tour, after all.

                                    So I keep clear of the line,

                                    sick, tight with my truth.

                                    Faith is still too

                                    but later that night

                                    she knocks on my door

                                    and cries for skin

                                    she’s never been in.

                                    These queer

                                    constructs: towers cut

                                    on ancestors’ backs.

                                    We discuss spectrums

                                    of shame.

                                    Late dawn is lilac

                                    phosphorescence crossed

                                    with migrating shadows.

                                    There’s no snow, just white ash.

                                    Surely the others see;

                                    they must sense our bent.

                                    Even birds know silence

                                    is also an answer.

Publishing credits

Five Ways of Looking at a Period: Banshee (No. 12)

Even Birds: The Sol Plaatje European Union

  Poetry Anthology Vol. VI (Jacana Media)

Ngiyakuthanda: uHlanga Issue 1 (uHlanga Press)


S h a r e

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