Fox Populi is a hilarious journey through the crackly airwaves of contemporary culture, a bi-lingual cross between Stand-up Comedy and Sit-down Poetry. With a radio-mic in one hand and a bar of chocolate in the other, Kate Fox listens to comedians and psychiatrists, runners and nutters, and joins the pioneering sociologist Harriet Martineau in a Call Centre in modern day Tynemouth. Drawing on her previous publications as well as on recently commissioned poems for the page, the stage and the studio, Fox Populi is the kind of poetry that doesn’t ignore most people.
My Mother is a Sunday counting ceiling roses, turning down the volume on the street. A Rubik’s Cube clicking slowly. She is a television of longing for dry stone walled fields and mahogany sideboards and china figurines in the back of the Mail on Sunday magazine. She is a shut up sweet shop and the turning back from the queue for the tearoom. I am the next day which, if it was left up to her, wouldn’t be a Monday.
I am waved off by a conga line outside the job centre someone asks me to bring back a noose woven in Inca colours I am helping the local economy by feeding my electric meter as if it is a one armed bandit and sending postcards from the Social Security office where I take numbered tickets to enter a raffle I never win. Sometimes they send cheques I don’t say thank you for as if it’s birthday money from an absent parent I think is the least they should give. I go on day trips to my bedroom and spend hours balancing my broken bed on different combinations of books. I meet like-minded people existing in novels and can’t afford the library fines. Some parents cover their children like a duvet or a sniper but I am untethered as a bat-shaped kite a child has let go of on purpose because it is embarrassed.
The window of the white Cortina is wound down at speed, and the car screeches off in a cloud of laughter as a boy bellows; ‘Run, you fat cow!’ I think perhaps it was because they’re disenfranchised, enraged by low employment and few educational opportunities. Or, they’re cut off from sources of power and pride with traditional models of family and home under threat. Possibly because they’re maligned and discriminated against when modern masculinity is in crisis and the only outlet for their identities is to impose them on others. They’ve probably experienced abuse and aggression themselves and project their anger toward helpless targets. Maybe my running symbolises freedom and a purpose they are denied, thus they denigrate anything that represents their own thwarted ambition. Then I think, actually, perhaps it was just because they are knobs.
'These poems... grab you by the throat, by the heart... Poems that touch awake the flame of anger against injustice.'
'Kate Fox is funny, quirky and a wonderful writer.'
'Her end rhymes alone are laugh out loud funny.'
'Sylvia Plath channelling Victoria Wood.'
'bold and brassy and very, very funny.'
'A wry and witty people-watcher, Kate Fox's poems lighten a dull day.'
'Fox has a gift for anecdote, a lively ear that catches the nuances and shifting fashions of everyday speech, and a strong sense of rhythm and musicality.'
Ian Parks, Critical Survey
'winning, witty and wise...'
'funny, poignant and very likeable'
Poetry Salzburg Review