November 27, 2009
And Meow for Something Different.
(Cool Cats...Come Closer: there's a new cat book out.)
David Lockyer, who lives in Martin, has published a book of poems about cats called CATamorphosis... or changing into a cat. What follows is his account of how he came to write the book.
"Who has not envied cats their lifestyle? I have been a cat slave from a young age and I have been writing for not much less. When I realised that I had written a number of cat poems it was only a gentle cat leap to produce a themed book dedicated to the mischievous darlings.
My life has been enriched by five moggies: Mickey - who, despite the name, was female!; Pushka - who lived to a crusty age; Ben - who tolerated being dressed up for many childhood 'plays'; Bonnie - who was as fearful and dependent as a cat should not be and Phoebe Macpherson - an almost mad feral kitten who was an ambushing Cato to Bonnie's Inspector Clouseau.
There are dozens of fictional examples of human attachment to cats: Postman Pat's Jess; Bob the builder's Pilchard; Snowball 11 (Actually V... it's a convoluted story) from The Simpsons; Tom of Tom and Jerry mayhem; Thomas O'Malley from the Aristocats; and maybe some you do not recall: Azreal?* Lucifer?*² Buxton?*³ (*See end of article for answers.)
The writing goes back a lot further than this, though.
In 2004, on the island of Cyprus, a cat skeleton was unearthed that may have pushed feline domestication back to 9500 years ago. The animal was closer to a wild species than a tame one but marks a time when men and cats were getting closer. Whole cat cemeteries, uncovered in Egypt, had to wait until 900 BC by which period cats had been venerated for some while. The path from savage to pet cat has thus evolved over millennia. Our Scottish wildcat seems fierce and untameable in comparison to these more amenable ancient cats.
At first, cats probably visited our dwellings to hunt mice and rats, eventually to curl up on a cushion, a place in our hearts. Anyone who can resist the cute meow and adorable appearance of a kitten may have no heart at all.
It took thousands of years after this early Cypriot finding before cats inspired a book of cat poems. T.S. Eliot, with Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, published in 1939, wonderfully got there first but there has been a long gap since, filled only by Cats the musical.
My book looks at becoming a cat (well owners are said to look or to become like their pets).
It started as a book of metamorphosis: ...thus the title CATamorphosis:
'Is there a CATamorphosis inside us all?
One paw print beyond personality
Seeking a way, however strange
To become a cat experience and say, "This cat is me."
And became cat identity through human eyes... and human characteristics through cat's eyes; each scrutinising the other. There are serious poems yet I hope it is fun too. Included are two poems from an unusual viewpoint: one the experience, almost memoirs, of a cat-flap and the other a cat bell's musings.
The book is superbly illustrated. The original intention was a daughter/ father collaboration but my daughter, Kimberley, had work and young children with different ideas and they intervened to such an extent that just two of the drawings are hers. The three illustrators, Barrie Dunwell, Kimberley Allen and Amanda Lillywhite, have done a wonderful job and their drawings could be a book in their own right.
Intriguing poetry and exceptional artwork, CATamophosis is the 'purrfect' read for cat and poetry lovers.
By the time you read this David Lockyer, the writer of CATamorphosis, will have been interviewed on Radio Lincolnshire by Melvyn Prior, for the second time, and given a reading and signing at The Hub in Sleaford, for the second time.
If you missed the posters and flyers, and would like a copy, they are on sale at The Hub, Walker's Bookshop - also in Sleaford, Tourist Information in Sleaford, Post Offices in Martin and Woodhall Spa and from Chaplin House B &B, Martin
(Phone 01526 378795).
CAtch as CATch can! Watch out for future readings and further books!
*Azreal: from the Smurfs (originally the Schtroumpfs) bad guy
Gargamel's scheming cat French/Belgium comic book characters (1958) and TV stars (1980's)
*²Lucifer: from Walt Disney's Cinderella... a cat that tries to make the lives of Gus and Jacque, the mice, hairy and scary (1950)
*³Buxton: the blue cat in Dougal and the Blue Cat: Magic Roundabout film (1972)