Caitlin Mckenna (they/she) is a queer, communist, vegan poet from Leeds. In the last year, Caitlin has been working as a writer across the North and performing at spoken word events and festivals, alongside getting pieces published in various journals. In 2021 they were included in a CLMP reading list and nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Griffin Poetry Prize. Their debut chapbook Now Say It Back was released by Bent Key Publishing in 2022. Cofounding literary affinity group Bone Down, Caitlin is dedicated to creating accessible, experimental artistic spaces. Her poetry showcases a profoundly confessional style and an unapologetically confrontational voice.


Poetry Anthologies

“Is not the real experience of each individual very limited? And, if a writer dwells upon that solely or principally, is he not in danger of repeating himself, and also becoming an egotist? Then, too, imagination is a strong, restless faculty, which claims to be heard and exercised: are we to be quite deaf to her cry, and insensate to her struggles?”

So wrote Charlotte Brontë to G. H. Lewes in 1848. This collection of poems, under the Leeds Trinity University Wordspace scheme, continues the tra

Winter 2021 Issue 2

When I was 19 I did a string of ballet turns all the way around the Monet room at MOMA. The guard looked straight ahead, giving no indication that he saw me. I was lucky to get a nice one; it could just as easily have been one of those authoritarian women with her hair in a low bun and a permanent scowl. I wanted to tell him, “This would make Monet happy”. It’s what I honestly believed. Monet aside, it made me happy to embody --- literally --- the colors at Giverny at once bright and blurred, th

Caitlin Mckenna —

and dreaming of invisible strings, the things

- golden, blue, iridescent in their shine and I thought of the time

you stood gleaming in the light of my attic window and I could have sworn

I glimpsed the thread connecting me to you.

I had to turn, my eyes blinded by the sun

but I knew if I tugged at it you would have come melting all over me

until we puddled together, unable to separate ourselves ever again.

From July to January I sprang in my elastic though between the idea

that you had

Now Say It Back: Caitlin McKenna

Deeply honest and exquisite: an exploration of every angle of love, even in its rarest form. Love is universal, complex and comes in many forms — it is passion and fury, anxiety and insecurity, calmness and serenity; it can chew you up, spit you out and leave you for dead — or it can consume you whole, savouring everything and leaving nothing. In this incredible collection of poetry, Caitlin McKenna explores the many faces of love, drawing on different relationships and the experiences inherentl

Chardonnay by Caitlin McKenna

The wine is becoming rancid in the bottle, as if my restraint is toxic

My mother drinks three bottles a night

between her and my father

My father can drink two glasses if he has work the next day

Two glasses and a gin if he does not,

And then when my mother has gone to bed, the vino helping her to drift,

The dark spirits come out

Like ghosts roaming the halls in pitch,

Seeing only what is left behind

An empty glass,

A television, volume set on low

Slurred speech

My mother cries, tel

Notable Perfomances

Since beginning my journey as a spoken word artist I've performed at some iconic venues, alongside some incredible performers. Some of my most notable booked performances have included: 

  • Ilkley Fringe Festival with Spoke
  • Leeds Poetry Festival 2022 Bent Key Showcase and Let’s Talk About It panel
  • Shook Arts
  • Deer Shed Festival
  • Runokuu Festival
  • Good Emotions
  • Tranarchy
  • Words with Fangs

I've also had the wonderful opportunty to headline Wordspace, Speakeasy, and On the Mic.


An image of me performing as parts of the Nymphs & Thugs Showcase at Deer Shed Festival 2023

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