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The Girl Who Forgets How to Walk

Kate Davis

"The Girl Who Forgets How to Walk captures the precariousness and fragility of life"

Luke Kennard

Kate Davis writes magical realist poems born of the hills, marshes and coastal edgelands of south Cumbria.

In this remarkable first collection, tarns, limekilns and abandoned pits become portals into a dark, interior world. A woman levitates above a building site; earth slips and fault-lines open up beneath the town; the sea hides ‘a gob of virus’. The moving title sequence tells the story of a young girl with polio who struggles to find her feet — and her voice — in an unforgiving landscape where ‘the ground cannot be trusted’.

Alive to geology, memory and myth, The Girl Who Forgets How to Walk is a brave, uncompromising and unmissable debut.


Our price £9.99
RRP £9.99
88 pages
ISBN 9781908058515
Published 12 June 2018
Cover design: Oliver Barrett


The Girl Who Forgets How to Walk captures the precariousness and fragility of life while reminding us of its tenacity and force – “so strong are the anchors”. Davis accomplishes this through palpable physicality: the body, its members, the landscape, its geology. The poems are personal and deeply affecting, always curious and outward looking, even when negotiating a fraught life of the mind and a very real struggle with disability. Strong company as we pick our own way across the rocks.
Luke Kennard

A personal quest to re-learn how to walk through cherished, northern landscapes introduces a gifted new voice. Gathering fragments from memory, myth, archaeology and geology, Kate Davis’s debut is a nimble exploration of what it means not only to exist, but to persist.
Jake Morris-Campbell, The Poetry School

This playful collection from Kate Davis is full of innocence and wisdom and wonder. The title sequence tells the story of a young girl with polio and her attempts to find ‘the footpaths of herself’ - but the whole of the book is open to the joys and complexities of landscape and the body. Poignant details - the smell of nettles, a woman reaching for a handrail in Debenhams - add weight to larger concerns - bodily autonomy, the science of sinkholes. A sparkling debut.
National Poetry Library

Very much enjoyed reading Kate Davis's The Girl Who Forgets to Walk today: a woozy, vivid sequence of poems about polio that somehow manages to avoid ever naming the disease.
Tristram Fane Saunders

This is a remarkably self-assured debut by a poet who knows what she wishes to achieve and accomplishes her aims, both in terms of theme and form. The title is taken from the book’s long central section, which follows the experiences of a young girl who contracts polio, a subject that Davis treats with a mixture of scientific knowledge, emotional poignancy and the beauty of art applied to unexpected subjects.
Adele Ward, London Grip

About the author

Kate Davis is a poet and storyteller. She was born in 1951 on the Furness peninsula of south Cumbria and has always lived there. Her poems have been published in Iota and Butcher’s Dog, implanted in audio-benches, sung throughout a 12-hour tide cycle, embroidered on clothes, remixed by a sound artist and printed on shopping bags. In 2013 she received a Northern Writers’ Award, New Poets Bursary.

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