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The selected works of poetry by Roz Kaveney

WAKING INTO DREAM is her third collection - it has poems about love, sex, death, fame, art and story.

There are poems here about being trans - celebratory poems about the new generation of trans and genderqueer people, and terrified poems about anti-trans violence and forced de-transition.

Roz writes wryly and lyrically about sexual love - and how it persists in old age even in relationships that don't have a physical outlet. A lot of the poems are about death - there's a series of five elegies to difficult and brilliant women Roz Kaveney knew and a lot of sonnets about celebrities who formed part of her personal mythology. Narrative poems are coming back into fashion - there are several ballad poems about 'wicked' women struggling with a not wholly imaginary 18th century, some poems about how Ancient Egyptians navigated their afterlife and a nightmarish ballad about Roz's experience of physical abuse at school. There are a number of political poems, most notably the sequence 'The Poet to her Young Comrades' written in 2012 but terrifyingly relevant in the era of Trump and Brexit.

Roz Kaveney's poems are a deliberate allusion to the grand tradition, but with a bitter queer twist of modernity to them.

Roz Kaveney grew up in both London and Wakefield and always intended to be a poet.
She tried to start a writing career at university but decided she wasn't ready. After her studies, she spent years transitioning, working in television, the civil service, gravel prospecting, catering and sex work before settling down to a freelance career in publishing and reviewing.

In her late 30s, she wrote her first novel, TINY PIECES OF SKULL, based on her experiences in Chicago in the late 70s. It was much admired by many writers, including the late Kathy Acker. The novel eventually won a Lambda Award in 2015.

By this time, Roz's career in activism had included being a founding member of Feminists Against Censorship and a period as deputy chair of Liberty.
She had written a number of books of criticism and cultural commentary of which the best-known being READING THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.
She returned to fiction with the award-shortlisted RHAPSODY OF BLOOD fantasy sequence and in 2009 returned to poetry.

Her first collection DIALECTIC OF THE FLESH was nominated for a Lambda and it and her second collection WHAT IF WHAT'S IMAGINED WERE ALL TRUE were highly praised by reviewers.

WAKING INTO DREAM is Roz's third collection.


"Kaveney is tugging on the threads of history and myth, writing subversion and heroism and villainy into the iconic figures of the past, playing games with narrative time, all the while bending the arc of her story towards a culmination that remains just out of sight. But Kaveney never gives you the sense that she’s groping in the dark: on the contrary, behind the disparate threads of the narrative is sense of confidence, a feeling that the author knows exactly what she’s doing and if you’re willing to go along, both the ride and the payoff will be entirely worth it."

Lucy Popescu on TINY PIECES OF SKULL in the TLS:
"Tiny Pieces of Skull deserves to be recognised as a seminal fictional work on transgender identity and transphobia."

Prathna Lor on DIALECTIC OF THE FLESH in Lambda Literary:
"Kaveney welcomes her readers into a private world where looking isn’t supposed to be sympathetic or intrusive but honest—accented with well-timed quips that give us enough distance not to be fraught with despondence."

See more HERE.


Hung in closed cupboards of my dozing mind

Or on their shelves, frocks shoes I used to wear.

No moth no broken heel no hems that tear

Nail catch dance step. I left them all behind

Months clean sheets bandaged bled out cut and sore

Doing my face in bed so I'd look well

For visitors. Whore face I'd paint to sell

Now reassuring friends. Ached to the core

Of who I'd been weak tired sad gross from bloat

Dance done I thought. And had not learned that charm

Would bring blonde cuties floating on my arm

I wish that i could send sick girl a note

Things work out fine. Wear black from head to toe.

It slims. And other things she'll need to know.


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