Katie Hale – How to Kill a Mermaid

How to Kill a Mermaid

To split her tail, you take her fins and pull.

(There is no blood, but the smell

of rotting fish, and saltwater stinging

in the wound.)

 Put her on the land

and make her dance, shedding scales

and stumbling, undressing her skin:

raw and pink and shining like a burn.

Hear her wailing like a curlew,

fingers wrinkled into fists against her eyes,

and tie her wrists

  (it will not hurt) –

then push the girl away, and watch her

hobble back towards the sea and drown.

Born in Cumbria, Katie Hale is the founder of poetry project ‘[insert text here]’ (sic). Her work has been published in Poetry Review, The Frogmore Papers and Cadaverine, among others. She is currently studying for an MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of St Andrews, and working on her debut pamphlet. More at: noordinaryblog.wordpress.com

Katie has written another mermaid-related poem, Siren Song, which you can read soon! She said of it:

My writing process various from poem to poem. Where the raw idea originates is nearly always a mystery to me, but the finished piece usually ends up a couple of steps removed from that initial thought anyway. This particular piece presented its own challenges because of the rhyme. In some ways, this limited what I could say, but it was also a generative process: if there’s something you want to say that won’t fit the rhyme scheme, you either have to find a different way to express it, or say something different. This element of rhyme was key to the creation of this poem, and is something I’m being drawn to more and more – it forces me not only to think outside the box, but to examine the box from every angle as well.

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2 Comments on “Katie Hale – How to Kill a Mermaid”

  1. Reblogged this on Second-Hand Hedgehog and commented:
    A massive thank you to Poems Underwater for featuring my poem, ‘How to Kill a Mermaid’ on their website. Looking forward to seeing another of my poems, ‘Siren Song’, in their anthology very soon!

  2. […] liked Michele Brenton’s photographs because, like Katie Hale’s poem Siren’s Song, they explored the idea of a ‘mermaid’s- eye view’, […]


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