A YOUNG Leamington poet has chronicled their battle with ME in verse.
Katie Walters’ anthology ‘My Body Is A Resource I Am Willing To Expend’ reflects their experience of living for the past six years with the severely debilitating condition Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, also called chronic fatigue syndrome or ME.
Katie, who identifies as non-binary, began their career in the arts as a Slam Poet, winning the SLAMbassadors National Youth Slam in 2014, and competing in the prestigious Roundhouse Poetry Slam in 2017.
They have performed their poetry at events including Shambala and Greenbelt Festivals, Beatfreeks’ Festival of Audacity, and at Warwick Arts Centre’s Solo Fest, and worked closely with the National Autistic Society on a variety of performances and awareness campaigns, including supporting Henry Normal at a Valentines Day fund-raiser in 2017.
Since falling ill with the chronic condition that has left them permanently physically disabled, Katie has by necessity expanded their practice beyond the spoken word circuit.
They have developed their own style of poetic storytelling, and begun to create longer form work for theatre, which explores themes of disability, environmentalism, and nature.
Katie said: “I’ve been wanting to publish a book for as long as I can remember, pretty much since I learned to read.
“I read a lot growing up, stories were always really important to me. They were magical, and I wanted to be the person who created that magic.
“Getting to the point of achieving that goal, and publishing this collection, it’s been a really strange and wonderful thing.
“I hope that it helps people to understand something about life with chronic illness.
“The process of getting sick changed me in a lot of ways that were difficult for people in my life to understand.
“That experience is very common, but lots of people struggle to articulate it. So I hope that the collection might help other sick people to feel less isolated, and help them find ways to explain what life is like in the wake of this kind of illness.”
Katie has performed at several festivals, as well as debuting the play Seasick at the Belgrade Theatre in 2021, and is co-founder of disability arts company Radical Body.
The TS Eliot Prize winner from 2019, Roger Robinson describes the book as: “Taking you into a surreal world that mirrors the mental discombobulation that can occur with long term illness.
“A truly difficult feat superbly articulated by a young writer of note.”
The collection is published by Burning Eye Books.