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Water dancer/Eurydice

for Jeannie

In a white dress, vase for one barbed
she floats moon-fingered, drifting,
a medusa in transparent skirts
or a narwhal beneath the split sea surface,
impaled on her own horn.

In a petticoat of an unstudied red,
frilled, gill-pleated—the flounced mantle
of the sea-slug ‘Spanish Dancer’;
or the silk within torn silk of rosebuds,
or the blood behind her eyelids.

In a black gown sharp as a blade,
long as an afternoon spent sleeping—
waking to shadows and low tide;
a crack through which slip all entreaties,
a rain of basalt fragments.

She moves with tones and undercurrents,
fault-lines, and the shifting cave light;
intermediary, instrument, instar,
brittle and yielding as a periwinkle,
cupping the rumour of oceans.

Water fills her ears. Faster than through
sound weaves past, shudders, scatters,
like something incompletely fashioned,
or some too-late reminder.
She longs for the ribbon of music
to wrap around her waist,
to tangle in her hair.

Ayala Kingsley The Stars Inside (2012)

Behind the beautifully articulated verse is the voice of a committed and passionate woman: cool, sexy, entertaining, acutely observant—an astonishingly literate, pageturning poet.
Ted Booth—Poet and Creative Writing Lecturer, Middlesex University

This is an an extremely original poetic sensibility and high level of technical accomplishment: every poem, every stanza, every line is perfectly shaped—driven
forward with intelligence, control and wit, producing an endless flow of images that startle and persuade.
Len Rix—2006 Oxford-Weidenfeld
Translation Prize Winner

Of ‘Unoriginal Sin’:
This resolute and aware monologue describes a failure of love and the persistence of exclusion and anti-semitism. The opening passage, a choosing and reliving of one life out of the millions recorded in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, is searingly given.
Penelope Shuttle


ISBN 978-1-906742-45-4


The Stars Inside marks a striking debut from Ayala Kingsley, an impressive poet already widely published in journals. Written with a dancer’s physical awareness, these rich, sensual, measured poems fuse the writer’s exterior and interior worlds, pin down the instant of falling, or holding on, or letting go; the infinite moment. Through ‘body memory’ they examine the fragility of being and the nature of loss, as in the title poem, which recalls the beginning of a damaging love-affair through the present experience of visual impairment.

This is more the poetry of undercurrents than mainstreams: its surface accessibility is buoyed on a deeply figurative engagement with language. A colouristic, painterly eye combines with a gift for aphorism: ‘Smoke rises like a name spoken softly’; ‘the bumping, like tired children, / of ghost hulls nudging the quay’ (which has something of the lull of Under Milk Wood). Kingsley has an ear for organic noun-combinations — ‘leafmould’, ‘seagreen’ — and onomatopoeic, Hardyesque dialect — ‘unwaymarked’, ‘scumbled’. While she is successful at metrical forms such as the villanelle, it is in her elegant, rhythmic vers libre, shaped by subtle enjambments, that her accomplishment is most notably displayed. There are faint echoes of poets such as Kathleen Raine and Amy Clampitt; but Kingsley’s restlessly explorative, intuitive verse promises to ripen into a distinction all her own.

Read more about Ayala Kingsley on her website: www.ayalakingsley.com 

Read extracts from The Stars Inside


Ayala Kingsley was born in Israel in 1953 — a lifetime ago — but was brought up in an industrial suburb of Manchester. She now lives in Oxford where she earns her living as a graphic designer and saves her sanity by performing as a butoh dancer — to the extent her eyesight allows the former and her knees the latter.

Kingsley is a founder member of the experimental dance collective Café Reason Butoh Dance Theatre, formed in 1997 (the year she also began to write) which seeks to express in movement the same ‘commitment to existence’ that her poetry does in words.

She is currently working on a short series of poems inspired by Café Reason’s recent Orpheus production. Kingsley’s poems have been published in several leading magazines, including Acumen, Ambit, The Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House, Magma, The Oxford Magazine and The Shop, as well as in the collection East of Auden and the pamphlet Three Voices, and have won prizes in the Orbis ‘Rhyme International’ competition, the Davoren Hanna competition and the Troubadour Poetry Prize.

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