All the Footprints I Left Were Red is concerned with origins: how the places we’ve lived and the people we’ve loved leave their mark on us. Born to an English mother and Kiwi father, Rowena Knight grew up in New Zealand and immigrated to England on her thirteenth birthday. Her poems explore the heightened sense of alienation that being “foreign” brings to adolescence; whether coming to terms with an England that is a far cry from the Enid Blyton books you were raised on, or trying to survive school with the wrong words – and rucksack.
These poems grapple with the meaning of coming of age in a world where women and girls are often objects for male consumption, and gendered violence follows you wherever you go – even into the fantastical landscapes of your favourite childhood films. But amid the violence there is revelry: in food, in love, in giving one’s body to another – or all three simultaneously.
This is a book for anyone who has ever felt out of place, wondered why it is that women so often write poems about being in the bath, or grew up believing the Goblin King was real.
‘Rowena Knight's striking, sensuous poems compel and resonate, immersing the reader in their bold, surreal and astringent imagery, where a culturally displaced narrator eschews cosy familiarity and certainties for more thrilling and de-stabilising contemplations of herself, her family and the complexities of memory and relationships. Bold, visceral and unsentimental.'
— Catherine Smith
‘These days, we often think of a footprint as a tally of our impact in the world, but footprints are also – for the naturalist or the detective – the trace of a body. In myth and folklore, the footprints we leave might lead us back out of the maze or the dark woods, or serve as a trail so others can find us when we lose our way. The trail of these poems maps childhood, migration, dislocation, and the complexities of love and belonging. There are fables that chart insidious violence, the entrapment of women; there are lyrical, playful poems that celebrate sexuality and desire. These are forthright, humorous, sensuous, tender, acutely crafted poems that sing with hard-won knowledge, and with risk: bright, clear prints.’
— Kate Potts
‘This is an assured and compelling debut from a poet who has a keen eye and a sharp tongue. Knight’s poems are both humorous and humane, expansive in their ideas but restrained in their forms. Her subject is ‘otherness’ and how we define ourselves in society, whether by birthplace, gender, or stance; her poems carry serious messages, but deliver them with a light touch.’
— Tamar Yoseloff
Date Published: 2016-06-30
Catalogue Number: VP0092
Number of Pages: 36
Cover design by Rosa Campbell
Cover photo by Emily Roper
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