Bigger on the Inside

Bigger on the Inside is a neuroqueer imaginary of Timelords, psychologists, octopuses, sparkly things and mushrooms. Kate Fox travels through time and space in search of solutions to the Double Empathy Problem. Along the way she encounters monotropists, labels, stigmas and people with differently wired brains. In this poetic exploration of neurodiversity, terms like Autism and ADHD can be bestowed, refused, fought for, resisted, queered or overturned. As the Doctor once said, ‘a straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting…’

Sample Poems

Bigger on the Inside

The world in an atom 
full of space and charge.
It’s not that those before us lied, 
they just could not see
we were bigger on the inside. 
The thoughts and feelings 
you share and hide
make you bigger on the inside.

We only see five per cent of the universe
the rest is dark matter and energy,
the void between the trapeze 
and the gaze fixed
on movement’s blur.
An absence of something can be a guide 
to what is bigger on the inside.
Some of us froze when we tried
to forget we too
were bigger on the inside

White space speaks
while the fonts stay quiet.
I called the counselling group women 
midwives of silence
because they let words 
hang in the air.
The gap between what is sent 
and what's replied,
what is stated, what’s implied. 
Language is bigger on the inside.

We only see five per cent of the universe
 the rest is dark matter and energy.
An absence can show only 
what we have to hide 
under the masks
we are all bigger on the inside.
Mourning expands us
to absorb those who died, 
making us bigger on the inside.

A marriage is an enclave 
with soft borders
whose language is dying out 
from the day it is learned.
I broke the contract but tried 
to know how couples 
become bigger on the inside.
With every category you elide 
you grow bigger on the inside.

You absorb people like sunlight, 
be careful not to burn,
even a day can tire you out. 
Keep them at a safe distance 
though as you warm your hands 
they may think
you are warding them off. 
Measuring visible behaviours 
long denied
the ways we are bigger on the inside

A stage is where the distance between performer 
and audience
and each full seat in the auditorium 
is filled with something
invisible and weightless
and powerful as electrons colliding.
The stories we tell and hear 
will abide
to make us bigger on the inside.

The Girl Who Waited


A woman from Huddersfield 
sets a course for the stars

one of my neurokin says
he didn’t know he wasn’t supposed

to go from a Newcastle comp 
to being a musician,

the unlikelihood 
hadn’t been wired in.

Another never fitted
with gangs on the council estate.

Prison or addiction 
his likely fate,

he wanted to take photographs, 
found a darkroom at eleven,

developed negatives in silver nitrate.
Playground bullies asked me

‘Who do you think you are?’
and the freedom lay in having no idea.

If you don’t know how to play the game you’re in
 or even that you’re in one

you’re free to find another way to win, 
or at least, become a magnet,

or iron filings, attracted to the forces 
which are not boring or baffling.

We Are (Definitely) Not Daleks

Fluorescent lights, 
restless nights.
Social cues, 
uncomfy shoes 
Just Tolerate 
Just Tolerate

Got distracted, 
didn’t hear,
just wanted things 
to be clear.
Need for detail 
and accuracy 
making others think that we 

we’ve craved or feared, 
online dating
is just weird, 
pressure to conform 
or breed
hyper or hypo sexual need 
Let’s mask our fate
Mask our Fate

and unexpected guests that hurt, 
the prickly label
in that shirt 
traumatic drill, 
sudden bill,
overload not under-use 
of will

The times we tried 
but didn’t fit, 
were bamboozled, 
or gaslit,
just want our tribe 
accepted more
not studied by boffins 
to find a cure 

Protection’s not a metal case 
it’s empathy
that won’t erase 
the ways we differ on the inside, 
here’s this symbol 
of Autistic Pride 
It’s lemniscate
It’s lemniscate

People who don’t mean 
what they say,
want you doing things 
the ‘normal’ way,
Don’t interrupt or complicate 
nor repeat or hesitate
Don’t Deviate 
Don’t Deviate

We’re not one tribe 
but recognise
a walk, a wince, 
a flick of eyes, 
liberation for one 
liberation for all
hear this as a collective call 

Life’s hard too
for dominant neurotypes, 
normality is not worth 
the hype,
on diversity, the tide is turning 
unity’s needed
cos the world is burning 
Love not Hate
Love not Hate

Silence in the Library

I was a library kid,
among the dusty shelves I hid

and browsed, discovered different worlds, 
from Sweet Valley High to What Katy Did.

Adult conversations with the librarian, 
learning how to be contrarian

reading the Mail, the Guardian,
Hansard and Private Eye

inside at break times, warm and dry,
loosening my strangulating school tie.

The relief and quiet of carpeted floors 
escaping echoey corridors
away from dinner-ladies, bullies and bores.

Once and always a library kid 
dreaming of islands or going off-grid

we all need sanctuaries
to be gently with others, or alone,

in your room,
your car, a beach, your phone

or deep safe inside yourselves
still miles and miles of library shelves.

Autistic Joy

Sparkly things 
Sparkly octopuses
Correcting someone who thinks the plural of octopuses 
is octopi
Doing it in a poem
Autistic Joy, an instant high 
Dungarees with dogs on 
Contagious excitement
about the server in Pret’s guinea pig dress! 
And how it has pockets!
And her guinea pigs will also recognise on it pictures 
of their own food-bits of cucumber and apple!
A retro flavour of Snapple
An info dump about my Sebo vacuum cleaner, 
bought after extensive joyous research
Electric blue stained glass with light slanting through 
in a furniture polish-scented church
A right rhyme 
at the right time
and the unchimeability of orange 
Spotting patterns on your bedspread, 
in their conversation,
in the icing on a Chelsea bun 
A perfect pun –
like my Buddhist friend
who said the new Covid strain 
would be called Om om omicron… 
The right silver of sea
combined with the right angle of sun 
Bonding over ‘ha ha ha,
neurotypical people asking ‘How are you?’ 
and giving them an honest answer’ 
Becoming spinner, tapper, conductor, rhythm, 
Your favourite brand of same food 
back on the shelf
A new amazing fact 
about your favourite act
A notebook or under-eye perfectly lined
The endless sparks and connections of your own mind 
Here, put that in your pipe
make it officially diagnostic
no one does joy like a joyful autistic.


Neurodiversity means everybody
feels the pressure to conform and regulate and hide:

Schools, companies, governments, capitalism, 
these systems we find ourselves in or outside

where the needs of our deepest selves may be denied, 
where we are not heard in our complexity and nuance

no matter how we’ve tried.
Keep on fighting while staying kind,

while holding on to your ‘Weird Pride’.
A stage where the distance between performer

and audience
and each full seat in the auditorium

is filled with something invisible and weightless 
and powerful as electrons colliding.

The stories we tell and hear will abide 
to make us bigger on the inside.