The Girl with the Cactus Handshake

63 pages
Published:November 1, 2009
Publisher: Templar Poetry
ISBN-10: 1906285985
ISBN-13: 978-1906285982

Katrina Naomi’s first collection The Girl with the Cactus Handshake was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award and received an Arts Council England writer’s award.

This impressive collection is rich with colour, black comedy, and surprise. Katrina Naomi’s inventive work locates a ‘beauty, a balance in watching’ as it explores unusual lives at key moments.
Todd Swift



A shriek of red, which blinds my window,
plaits braid up from water
as if they don’t need it. Six petals,
four stamens; a wodge of green
spears the light.

It’s the upper buds
that capture, their sly wink, a dog’s
penis, a lipstick among the folds,
loving that sheath before the entrance
of flame, of shock.

A small bleed
of white on the largest sepal,
a landing strip, a lowdown scent
as I’m striped with pink pollen.
I pinch out the dead.

At the base,
still two to be born, drained,
as if they’ve walked the streets all night,
pale coral against a grey October.
A life that’s unambiguous. Quiet.


Daljit Nagra, Tamar Yosselof, Adam O’Riordan on London New Poetry Award Judges, 2010 wrote:

Naomi’s poems often establish surprising contexts from which to explore the intimate codes of relationships. The farmer’s boy is up and away or a woman recollects lying on the floor of a pub with a man while her partner watches. Allusions and an acute psychological interrogation make the poems incisive and unpredictable and keep us on our toes for the possible mischief ahead. This arresting and vivid first collection is full of dark humour and affectionate address to dark circumstances.

David Cooke on The North, No 48 wrote:

A unique way with imagery.