In the early years of the 17th century, for the first time ever a Scottish king acceded the English throne. His name was James.
In the early decades of the 21st century, two friends, Bryony and Ash, are just trying to figure things out together in the West Midlands of England.
Asking questions about legacy and sovereignty along the way, Hart & Ha’penny is part historical fiction, part contemporary tale – a time-hopping poetry novella about love and god(s), magic and survival, and finding somewhere to belong.
Hart & Ha'penny is available to order from TwistiT Press here.
There will be copies available directly from me, and from bigger online retailers, at some point in the future.
"Garrett’s masterful verse novella begins in the archives: ‘centuries / swirl silt to the surface, let it clear again.’ By these lines, Garrett encourages the reader to think for themselves. Hart & Ha’penny demands rereading. There are two parallel narratives woven throughout the collection: a contemporary story of two friends in the West Midlands, and James I in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries with his complicated relationships and complicated motivations. Garrett’s writing is astonishing; the way she effortlessly evokes the modern world (‘the moon’s slow hoarfrost reveal’) and the historical world (‘creatures alien as foxes / in the dark’). Hart & Ha’penny is a vital book and I feel privileged to endorse it."
- Edwin Stockdale, author of The Glower of the Sun
‘…one of the most secret princes of the world …capable of bitter hatred.’ – Sir Henry Wotton on James VI
History remembers your fondness for unwatered
wine, androgynous men; your wit, dry as stable
straw. Somehow soft, despite an arrowhead intellect
and a tendency to fling insults pulled from the dirt.
But here in one man are two kings, and this reputation
came after England, to cover hushed lines of Scotland’s
stories, secrets in plain sight. Here is a cold thread
of revenge in your bloodline, a hot burst of ambition –
the side-eye glances, the need above all else to flush
noble plots into open clearings, witness their panic
on fluttering wings. You think nothing of heads on spikes,
punishments ordered from the comfort of Holyrood.
Here in one man are two things: an earthbound god
destined to rule; a hunted animal determined to survive.
"Hart & Ha’penny is a gandering into the life of King James: his affections and ambitions; his beliefs and infatuations that tempted his interests. The poems within clutch to the truth of the time as related to James and those near him, to the magic he studied and religion he furthered, to subjects commonly shielded by repute. Kate Garrett’s stunning attention to language, in the fictional and historical, delivers a candid and at times commiserative portrayal of a ruler wildly revered and often reviled— allowing readers the chance to witness James Stuart as a man, not just as a king."
- Rachel Nix, poet and editor
Ash notices you wear a slip of silver on a chain around your neck, its colour turning like the oak leaves. He asks you what it means. You tell him this scrap of the past once called you home with its patinaed sheen, explain it’s from a time when women like you had to be more careful. It’s a reminder of how far things have come, but also won’t let you forget where it began – four centuries, a long wait for anyone to belong. On one side, a rose, on the other, a thistle. These, he says, are fitting for you – your nose and cheeks pinked by autumn winds, your green fingers pinching, pulling charms from patches of still strong wildflowers. Once upon a time a ha’penny was charity for the poor as they sang for soul cakes and ale, greeting winter’s spectre. And you know if now was then, he’d have turned you in, but today you gently tip the dregs of his teacup into the saucer, explain good fortune found in a dagger and a hat. You can both appreciate the flip of a coin; how long we hold on to loose change.