Thank you to Karl Anderson on Unsplash

Exquisite corpses? Wild writing?

Exquisite corpse is the term for a method of collaborative working whereby a number of artists or writers sequentially contribute to a story or a drawing. Supposedly invented by Andre Breton and his surrealist friends in Paris in the aftermath of the first war, the idea and the expression have expanded to include words as well as images.

Wild writing involves taking a concept or a theme as a machete and hacking your way through a tangled jungle of words and ideas to an unknown destination. You have to reach your goal, even if you aren’t…


Today we went out to the Chilterns for a wintery socially distanced Tier4 walk: me, husband and son. The younger one stayed gone to walk with her friend- at this age more vital than anything else. I was so grateful for the English wi yet sky, the light, the colours, that you can drive half an hour out of London and be in a wide, in peopled space of fields and forests.

It hasn’t been easy doing my Advent Gratitude this year. On other years going out into the city has yielded treasures. This year I have gone over and…


My favourite California flower — a beautiful immigrant that has thrived

In California where my sister lives it is still December 23rd. In London, it is morning, still dark, everyone in my house asleep.

I have been writing these advent gratitudes into the dark of this winter. Sometimes someone else will read them and send a clap or a like. …


Today I went for a walk with my friend. She was the first friend I made in England; we met because our boyfriends were friends from university. I liked her warmth and spirit; from the very beginning she made me laugh.

Later those boyfriends became husbands. We ended up living in the same neighbourhood. Her son and daughter were born months before my son and daughter. We have been through stuff together – birth, death, heartbreak, triumph, comforting when needed, cheering each other on always. We have fought like sisters and made up like friends.

Today, stuff was going on…


High noon on December 20th, Richmond Park London

On Sunday, we went for a bike ride — across Richmond Park, down in Hampton, along Kingston to the Thames, through Sheen Park and back in a loop along the north side, catching a glimpse of the water again at Brentford. It was a really great ride, the river shining, the bare trees like sculptures, the open fields green and bright.

Although the weather report predicted this would be our only window of sun for a few days, at the top of the hill in Richmond, the outlook was doubtful. A heavy, dark cloud hung low in the sky. As…


Today my son and I went for a walk along the river. The water was low, exposing steep banks. The wind tossed the empty branches of the willows on the water’s edge. We passed a group of rowers, getting ready to go out for what will probably be the last time for awhile. On the way back we stopped at the outdoor market under the arches. We tried samples of truffle infused pecorino cheese from Italy, trout from English chalk streams, admired the Portuguese cakes, bought some French bread. We saw the stall selling Caribbean spicy condiments which provided the…


Today I did yoga on the phone with my 20 year olds son. It really was the best thing about the whole day. That he’s willing to do downward dog side by side makes me very grateful.


On December 17th, Exiled Writers Ink launched its 20th anniversary book coming out with Palewell Press with a reading on Zoom. More than 60 people showed up from all over the world, and the poets who shared work were Londoners with origins in Kurdish Syria, Ughur China, Kenyan America, Iran, Bosnia and Bolivia. They read their work, spoke eloquently of their hope for human rights around the world, and thanked the organisation that has provided a home for refugee writers since 2000. …


One of ours is socially isolating upstairs after some of her school friends tested positive. To cheer her up I got her an early Christmas present of a teach yourself knitting kit. By an accident of credit cards I ordered two. Her friend down the street is in the same boat, and she asked me to take the second kit to her friends house and drop it through the letter box.

It was 3:30 when I went out. At the school across the street, parents were waiting in a long line, holding their umbrellas, picking up their kids one by…


On Tuesday I met with my university book club. We’re a small group from different departments who have been gathering for probably half a decade now. No matter what we read, some of us like it and some of us don’t. This time was Nancy Mitford’s Christmas Pudding: a book about a house party among country aristocracy published in 1932. We talked about which characters we liked or didn’t- mostly; whether you have to like any character to like a book; parallels between 1931 and 2020, inequality, anti-Semitism, humour. I wore a Santa hat. I was not the only one…

Catherine T Davidson

Writer, teacher, immigrant. Angeleno in London. Connecting through the world of words one reader at a time.

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