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‘Who’s this I hear, ringing like the tiny bell in a nut?’



Strange Shape, the debut poetry collection of Cat Woodward, is a love letter to Norwich, haunted by the spectral hellhound Black Shuck across the fens and fields of history, following the rivers towards the waves of the rising tides returning to claim the land. Imaginative, lyrical and full of dark magic, Strange Shape takes an East Anglian city and shifts it into unexpected forms.

‘Exceptional. Strange Shape balances inventiveness and tension. Her writing becomes a visionary exercise.’


Dr Andrew McDonnell, Gatehouse Press Editor


read an extract from Flint


In which Flint is formed, discovered, and worked into the buildings of the city of Norwich.


I am a dark clodling deep inside the coddling sea,

thick with drifts of tiny dead: fish, gribkin, sponge.

Cheek and jowl a soupy seeping is I,

a lulled, dull clump and wondrous lumpish,

quiet, secrety.


Hush, now the wash spits me up

on this gritty shore of scrapings, gullbone, otherstone.

Strange, strange, strange this sun-thing;

I have a back now, for it can dry and scorch and flake

to little ashes.


The surf behind me laughs;

night then day then night pass and I am mad.


Then, in the bright time, standing on two legs

the wormlings have come in roughen wools,

with their smells, their crunchy gull-talk.

The wormlings come with hands,

they thieve me right away. They






When struck, my dun eye hatches,

split flash of fire flying,

like a black mare that stamps to a halt at midnight,

like a wyvern maw yawing sparks,

I drop scraps of dragon, moonflakes, sudden, quick, uncatched.


Behold, my scalped insides, knapped, hulled, unblinking,

are a scoop and jag of glaucous glass.

The wormlings have pummelled me to slick, slicing bits

all while cursing and devilling, splitting fingers.

I am a glut of cuttings, tinier, manyer, otherer.

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