Kate Cayley

Kate Cayley is a poet, playwright, and fiction writer living in Toronto. She is the author of one previous poetry collection (When This World Comes to an End, Brick Books), a young adult novel (The Hangman in the Mirror, Annick Press), and a short story collection (How You Were Born, Pedlar Press), which won the 2015 Trillium Book Award and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award. She has been a playwright-in-residence at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto since 2009, and has written two plays produced by Tarragon, After Akhmatova and The Bakelite Masterpiece.

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Other Houses

In Other Houses, Kate Cayley’s second collection of poetry, objects are alive with the presence of the people who have handled them. Myths and legends are interwoven with daily life. Visionaries, mystics, charlatans, artists, and the dead speak to us like chatty neighbours. An imaginary library catalogues missing people. Reading becomes a way of remembering the dead. Home is an elsewhere we are “called to,” a mystery that impels children to wander off, and adults to grow in unexpected directions.

Cayley couples a rich, meaty lyricism with the intimacy of direct address, creating a poetry that is at once embodied and spectral. She directs us to wonder, “Did light and dark have a taste and texture, like food?” At the same time, her command of voice and narrative is masterful—each of these poems unfolds with the sweep and precision of a compressed novel.

…Walking alone, you come upon a single glove, or shoe, pressed into the light snow.

Or find a handprint on the wrong side of a windowpane.

Or find a collection of marbles, still grouped carefully together in the backyard.

Messages.   

(from “The Library of the Missing”)

“Beware of Kate Cayley. With an agility stolen from some other world she flicks this one open and invites us to watch our certainties scuttling away. Predatory and unsettling, these exquisitely crafted poems suggest that we are at our most human when yearning to reach beyond the visible.” —Martha Baillie