Deadly, Delicate by Kate Garrett

Here are fifteen poems circumnavigating the world of historical piracy, presented at a slant where the men are dangerous and the women are lethal.

The violence and the sweetness, the freedom and the acceptance of death are all given equal footing. Never straying from the brutality of a lawless life on the seas, Deadly, Delicate welcomes you to the depths…

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Anne Bonny walks out to sea

The salted air no longer stings my cheeks,
in the way a skilled shipwright never
splinters wood. This path pushes out,

sanded smooth; I reel along it to the
shoreline, away from honest, lawful men
who trade another’s neck for silver.

And I chance my own for waves,
fitted with a mermaid’s tail – trousers
hide my landlegs, curls knotted

behind my back, tucked under my hat.
I would swing before I let Jack down,
drown before my debt is settled.

If only he brought fire from our bed
to steam the water’s edge.
He lacks ambition.

But he loves me for the way I hold
a gun, the knife wiped
clean of blood on my white shirt.


Praise for Deadly, Delicate:

“Gender moves like the ocean in Kate Garrett’s world of women, pirates, sex and death. These are poems that swing a sword to make the world roll away. Taut, brutal and beautifully tender, Deadly, Delicate is exactly what it says. Try it. It will leave you hungry for more.”

– Angela Readman, award-winning poet & short fiction writer

“These poems have a fitting revelry, are hedonistic, yet their sensuousness is often surprisingly tender. The characters within are those you’d dream of plundering with, drinking and fornicating with, maybe even hanging with. I left these poems with the smell of salt, sweat and sex in my nostrils and the want of rum on my tongue.”

– Brett Evans, award-winning poet & co-editor of Prole

“The Pirate – the ultimate outsider, the men and women who turned away from conventional society’s rules and norms in favour of the short merry life of freedom and plunder on the seas. In our regulated world, the stories of these glorious renegades still haunt us, and in these poems, they speak to us again. Open the book, and listen to their voices . . . “

– Suz Winspear, Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2016/17

“You walk the line between heroine and villain. You ask, does the ocean fit the bounds of the continents, or does the sea encompass the land? Where is that meeting point between earth and water, air and fire? Kate Garrett dances the plank of these questions. Simple answers will not do. Neither good nor evil. Not land, not water, but words to light the way.”

– Rosie Garland, writer & musician


Reviews of Deadly, Delicate

“In Deadly, Delicate, Kate Garrett moves beyond her previous collections and proves she’s not only a poet with multiple voices, but also a storyteller eager to speak for the misunderstood.” – Rachel Nix for Hobo Camp Review

“These are not all the romanticised pirates of frilled shirts and plumed hats. There’s sex and death, passion and destruction all wonderfully, and violently, played out in the words of each poem.” – Susan Omand for The DreamCage

“It doesn’t just represent fantastic pirate poetry; it represents fantastic poetry, period. We highly recommend it as worth a read for both poetry and history buffs as well as serving an excellent primer for those unfamiliar with either subject. It’s also recommended for Pirates.” – The kind and hilarious (but anonymous) souls at Wanton Fuckery Poetry

“These poems are, as the title suggests, both delicate and deadly; on rereading they reveal a precise yet subtle crafting, but what I particularly enjoy about Kate’s poems are how she manages to get whole stories into the poems.” – Marija Smits

“Kate Garrett has transformed historical facts which are little known, into fascinating poems which give the reader insight into the hearts and minds of pirates, with a strong focus on the female experience.” – Angela Topping for Stride Magazine