Caroline Gilfillan

29 April 1951-24 September 2023

Caroline Gilfillan

Caroline Gilfillan won the Suffolk Poetry Society’s George Crabbe Award in October 2012 with ‘Christina’s World’. The adjudicator was Kenneth Steven.

In 2015, Robert Seatter awarded First Prize to her poem ‘Things He Loved‘.

In 2019 she won second prize with ‘Advice from the Afterlife‘. Tiffany Atkinson adjudicated.

In 2022, Blake Morrison awarded her third prize for ‘My Grandmother Visits the Father She’s Never Known (1883)‘.

Her poetry pamphlet, Yes (Hawthorn Press, 2010) won the East Anglian Book Award for the best poetry collection. Her first full poetry collection, Pepys was published by Hawthorn Press in November 2012. She wrote and performed with The Pepys Players Meeting Mister Pepys, a spoken-word piece featuring poems from her collection, diary extracts and songs of the period.

As a member of Inprint, a collaborative group of poets and artists, she worked on projects combining poetry and visual artwork. With Chronicle, she devised spoken word pieces drawing on the history of the Norfolk Paston Family.

Born in Sussex, she lived in London for some time. She was also a singer and musician, who led singing workshops and performed with various bands.

Her poetry and fiction have been published in many magazines including The London Magazine, Poetry Review and Mslexia.

Samuel Pepys Travels to the Grammar School at Huntingdon

He scrambled on to the Thursday carrier at Cripplegate,
the horses shaking their bridles, snorting strings of warm phlegm.

A whip crack and a click from the driver’s tongue started the team
on the plod through Kingsland village and up the long rise

to the scuffed towns of Enfield and Ware, through ruts and bogs,
sucks and splashes, along a Roman road the auxilia built

while centurions yelled orders and shivered, knee-deep in mud,
homesick for a sun that would lick them clean.

Beside his seat on the creaking coach, dabchicks
split the surface of pond after pond crowned in veils of gnats

until, two days later, Sam reached the ditches of black soil fens
patrolled by swans. At Huntingdon he slid down from his hard seat

and walked through gold-pennied water meadows to a house
overlooking the Ouse. In his grammar school the hot breath

of the forum blew through his hair, as Cicero defended
decrepit Rabirius, and Horace advised dawdlers to carpe diem.

He was beaten if he gossiped or brawled in English: only
the stiff declensions and conjugations of Latin were allowed.

That language grew in him like winter wheat. It sprouted, seeded,
bore tough, floury grain that would sustain him year on year,

while in his diary he would lift the skirts of English, enjoying the salt
taste on his fingertips, its codes and curls drawn in slippery ink.

Copyright © 2013 Caroline Gilfillan






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