Young poet ovecomes adversity to perform at Bedfringe

Among the big, bold, attention-seeking acts at Bedfringe, is Katie O’Pray, a young poet from Bedford that readers may remember was featured in the Bedford Independent last year.

Read: Special report: ‘Death sentence’ for eating disorder sufferer unable to access treatment

In April 2021, Katie was so dangerously ill with diabulimia that they were begging to be admitted to a specialist eating disorder unit. Due to the complications of the condition, finding a suitable hospital to care for them was difficult.

In the last 18 months, the creative writing student has overcome yet more adversity – including the sudden death of their cousin Rees – yet still been able to make incredible progress and have committed themselves to their recovery.

Returning to university in October 2021, Katie has not only undertaken some in-patient treatment but has taken part in poetry readings in Brighton and won the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Culture at the University of Hertfordshire.

The accolades don’t stop there. Katie is also the winner of the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition 2021 and is the recipient of the Ruth Weiss Foundation’s Emerging Poet’s Prize.

Katie’s performances on the Garden Stage at Bedfringe this weekend will be the first solo reading they’ve done.

Their work spans themes including queerness, trauma, love, loss, and hope. These poems explore the intimate corners of the world in which we live; they offer a hand and invite us to look at them together. “

“I’ll be reading poems from my collection, Apricot,” Katie told the Bedford Independent. “They deal with loss, eating disorders, recovery and queerness, some of which have been published.”

Katie said that since their recovery they’ve been able to write from a more hopeful perspective.

“I’ve now got more mental space to think about things,” said Katie.

“Rees’ death has highlighted how life is so short. I want to say ‘yes’ on his behalf.”

Katie’s poetry collection ‘Apricot’ is published in October.

“It has to be read and heard to be felt” WILL HARRIS

“wild precision” CAROLINE BIRD

They will be performing their show Fruit at Bedfringe at the Quarry Theatre on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 July at 7.30pm. You can buy tickets here.

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