The Crumps Barn Studio bookshop and art gallery is situated in Cirencester, Gloucestershire. They have been publishing books since 2012 and Festival of Cats is a recent release. This pocketbook of poetry and short stories was created in conjunction with an art exhibition that ran throughout February 2023. Intended to ‘lend a bit of cheer to the winter months’, the collection offers a playful celebration of the role cats play in the lives of the humans they deign to share their homes with.
“While I was a parish priest in Leicestershire, I was allowed to lodge at the North West Leicestershire Cats Home. Also known as my rectory.”
Cats of all kinds feature, from those feeling abandoned and unloved in rescue centres to the felines who rule their territory and are loved unconditionally. A vampire cat eyes up a family as a source of food. A long haired tabby helps bring together a shy young lady and her crush.
Two stories I particularly enjoyed were Hero by Harriet Hitchen and Nine Lives by J.J. Drover. These offered a little more structure and depth than some of the entries. Many are anecdotal in nature, a simple sharing of why the author’s cats are so much appreciated. Feline antics may be tolerated, and often found endearing, but there is no turning away from certain habits that are not so appealing.
The meter of the poems can be somewhat simplistic but what comes across is the love for these furry creatures. The entries in which the cat is the narrator offer amusing perspectives, even if they do pander to a degree of anthropomorphism.
The book is nicely bound and presented, including a scattering of wonderful cat illustrations by Lorna Gray.
A fun little keepsake or gift for the ailurophile in your life. A reminder of the myriad challenges and rewards of accommodating a feline friend.
“You never choose a cat, nor do you ever own one.
You belong to them, and all being well,
They let you share their lives and reveal to you
Just a glimpse – every now and then.”
(My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Crumps Barn Studio)