The saint of milk & flames

Kate Garrett

The saint of milk and flames is a collection of poems about finding faith, valuing doubt, and the poet accepting herself as a mother as well as a daughter, for all the pain and joy involved in those roles. There is anger, but justifiable anger - the flame as power, illumination, defiance, a force to move us forward; there is milk in nurturing given and received, sometimes to and from unexpected places. From personal experience to myth to historical moments re-imagined, from family bonds to physical disability to spiritual synthesis, these are ultimately poems of healing and becoming.

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"There is something assured about Kate Garrett’s poetry – the fierce paddling pen of the poet, almost invisible beneath the surface. If Garrett was writing about flowers and sunsets, her poems would be well crafted distractions – lovely and transient. But there is nothing fleeting about the raw strength of emotion that pulses through this collection. ... The saint of milk and flames is an intelligent and surprising collection strung expertly together with patterns of language and thought – returning to the sea, to myth and to fairytales – yet grounded in the ordinary as the backdrop to imperfect, messy lives. At its very best, the myth and the mess exist side by side."

— Sarah Hehir

Read the full review here in Confluence Mag.



The saint of milk and flames is a beautiful tangling of existence, a clear-eyed unraveling of what’s been fumbled by others’ actions. Kate Garrett looks at what endings could look like, but is reminded what’s temporary can’t be minded and opts to get lost in the living, instead. She wraps the hurt in softer things – uninterested in hiding scars, or suggesting her children won’t find their own in the lives she’s designed to be better than hers. These poems look to grief as much they do growth; they’re what mending looks like.”

 Rachel Nix

"Above the emotional layers of pure suffering truth and gorgeously rendered language, the frontal notes of The saint of milk and flames brim from an overwhelming inhalation of genuine mysticism. Garrett’s work peels back reality veil after veil, breaking down artifice until one loses one’s self in the breathtaking oft-hidden remainder - the universe of limitless magic that binds everything to itself. You feel a vibration like a perfect chord as Garrett sets the past rippling into the now, reflecting on humanity’s forgotten prophets. The saint of milk and flames is a tributary, it is a hymn of reverence, it is a bloom of beautiful, stinging love."

Jeremy Johnson,

award-winning author, poet, and playwright

"Kate Garrett’s poetry holds a silver mirror up to the face of reality, bringing forth all that is fantastic.  Alternately ethereal and eldritch, The saint of milk and flames is both delicately and deftly written, drawing deep from the well of emotion with a skill most writers can only aspire to. Garrett writes her own myth of escape from trauma into motherhood and stands as the hero of her own tale. Moving and wise, this is an incredible full-length debut and the most excited I have ever been for a book."

- Amy Kinsman



“In this powerful first collection, Kate Garrett takes the reader on a roller coaster of emotional journeys. The poems themselves emanate the light of embers, or surge as powerful fiery forces, the kind of fire that will cleanse and heal by destroying all that is before it.

From the opening poem, we know our experience of reading this collection is going be both magical and unsettling,  as the personal tells us 'in every other dream of mine there’s a ladder hidden in the garden', inviting us to ascend and climb into another world or alternate reality. By giving us as readers the means to do this, Garrett allows us to glimpse places we could not otherwise see into ~ this is the beauty of strong poetry, which can reveal, and empathise, yet also stand at distance from the words, allowing us to come to them as we are, and take what we need from them.

Throughout these poems, Garrett prompts us to see what may be hidden in plain sight, as the Mother Shipton Moth reminds us of 'how prophecies stay hidden / because no one is paying attention'.  

In a tour de force that takes us from Wolverhampton Services, through holy wells in the sacred landscape of Wales, I was pleased to be brought home to Granny Woman, wise in the Appalachian Mountains, who reminds us that 'They don’t see what we see'; that in all joy there may be sorrow, in all suffering, release. These poems take us through the healing fires of The saint of milk and flames, and I for one cannot wait to read more from this wonderful writer.” 

- Ali Jones



"In a poem from this book entitled 'I dream Edith Sitwell gives advice on my condition', one of Edith’s pearls of wisdom is for the writer to “let the minute hand of my unpredictable heart set the pace”, which is something that Kate Garrett sticks to most certainly throughout this scorchingly well written collection. It is clear from the outset that this poet has lived through some interesting times which she reveals deftly with no hint of sentimentality. She walks with the red women, the universal granny women, the young, the old, the sainted, the condemned, the met in life, and the ancient ghosts. They are all there at the wedding waiting for a glass of something to keep the cold out.  And their tales are told beautifully on the off-beat. I have rarely seen rich language used so well. This book will show you what poetry can be at its very best."


- Barry Fentiman Hall,

poet and editor of Confluence

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