Question & Answer 2 – Anna Cathenka

Question 2

I’ve been trying to write these poems for twenty years and I still can’t work out how to make the line breaks match the speech patterns of my father’s baby talk to my youngest brother

I’ve been trying to write a novel for twenty eight years from the day I was born until the day I am scared of flying and wait until I can safely submit it to my parent’s bins and let the foxes edit it

I’ve been trying to be scared of success but I’m more scared of failure and really the whole thing is a race to zero

How long have you been trying?

– Aaron Kent

Answer 2


I am, quite simply, not trying at all. The words fall from me like MAGIC and make little black magic DUST patterns on the page. It is very enjoyable and I am constantly sent forth from cities, my head anointed with myrrh and CROWNED with garlands of wool. I am A POET. I am A Cathenka. To make the line breaks mimic the patterns of you Father’s speech first burn a YELLOW CANDLE on Michaelmas eve, repeating the phrase RED ROCK I AM A RED ROCK and keep doing so until the words begin to mimic the cooing of your baby brother. At MIDNIGHT reply to the cooing by DRUMMING your limbs repeatedly against your FAVOURITE TREE and like ALCHEMY WORDS will form themselves into your desired meter. This is also a good SPIRITUAL CHANT which calls forth the editing foxes with little editing pixies riding on their backs to your (or in fact anyone’s) PARENT’S bins. I’m afraid I cannot fail and the truth is there is no truth so neither can you. Just start typing on A Keyboard and you will see that a JUNGLE FEVER of linguistic signifiers manifest themselves in ELECTRONIC LIGHT in front of your eyes. If you tell anyone about this they will know that you have WRITTEN a poem. Just like that. If you like you can play with the BLACK or white page patterns and it will give people SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT, which is nice. In social situations just start making rhythmic GRUNTING NOISES with an expression of meaningful intent on your face and they will also know you are a poet. For extra effect do this in front of a MICROPHONE or holding a few sheets of paper or with your eyes closed and one finger in your ear as if you are trying to hit the right note. You are a poet because CHRISTMAS EXISTS, remember that. Also remember, everything is a race from zero, in fact. Enjoy the entropy.
A Cathenka

– Anna Cathenka


Question & Answer 1 – Anna Cathenka

Question 1

I’ve spent weeks
forcing booze
down my throat,
breaking my ribs
and bursting a hole
in my chest cavities.

It hurt to try
to be a member
of the public again.
Have you ever
had to return
to your life?

Distractions faded.
Expel demons,
glorious, unchained
and enraged.

– Aaron Kent

Answer 1

i have been trying to write this poem for two weeks / your question is very direct / and yet abstract / can i answer a question / with a question? / what do you mean exactly?/ why have you asked me such a profound and yet / meaningless / question? what are you expecting? / OK that is / more than one question // i am in the process of leaving / today i am supposed to be packing / up my house for the past two weeks / i have been trying to say / i hope every time i leave / (which is often) / is a return / i am scared // of leaving scared / i might be making / a dreadful mistake i mean for fuck’s sake look at this place / look at these people / look at this beautiful / life i have by this beautiful / blue / and sometimes green / and often silver / fucking ocean what i hope is / that i can return / to this life which i am / actively leaving / for the unknown // that is another reason / i have had trouble writing this / poem because what if you can’t? / return that is / so there is that and then also / the fear / of writing a poem / that responds directly to a question / a poem that’s too open  / which is why / i have laid it out in this way / with these fancy / backslashes to make up for // line breaks or anything that might make this / look like the kind of poem / i hate / (but yes i have had to / return to my life / both in the good sense / and the bad)

just before leaving / cornwall i had a cancer scare i mean / i am still / scared of cancer but this was a more specific fear / with actual tests / and a dr / and i found the things i was most scared of // were not death / or dying / but 1 losing all my hair and 2 / dying in solihull at my parents house / instead of here / in cornwall which as you can imagine / only fuels my fear that leaving / might be a mistake // hopefully i can make it to my next destination / (norwich) before i actually get cancer or any / other life-threatening illnesses / but then i don’t really want to die in norwich either / even if  it’s preferable to dying in the midlands / or specifically suburbia / which is the metaphor i’d use / for the bad / times i returned to life  / like after an exotic trip and a long hall flight  / back to birmingham  airport / which is very near where my parents live / (we’ve had picnics / at the runway) / but anyway that’s the bad // return isn’t it? a fairytale that ends on coventry road / and the good? i suppose / any complex metaphor for that would be / worse than writing this with line breaks but / i guess it’s like me leaving / cornwall when i’d happily / die here does that / answer your question?

– Anna Cathenka