The Rat Fathom is a collection of 33 poems written in eleven hands. A twelfth hand is found on the title page of "The Long-Forgotten Airfield" but is not found in the poem itself.
The poems were written in late 1972 and early 1973. When "Phoenix" was written on May 31st 1973, it was realised that the cycle was complete. May 31st has since been celebrated as "The Welder's Feast".
The order of the poems is chronological, except for the second Fragment, "Fragment B". This manuscript page was thought to be lost until it was re-discovered some months after the Rat Fathom was finished. Its position in the cycle is only approximately correct.
The meaning of the title "The Rat Fathom" is hinted at in a phrase common to "The Ill-Drained Twosome" and "Xella: The Years Above".
A complete reading of The Rat Fathom is preserved on tape, and these recordings are gradually being made available on this site. A number of poems have been set to music.
Copyright in The Rat Fathom as a whole is owned jointly by The Rat Fathom Poets. Copyright in the individual lines, words, and, in some cases, letters is owned by the individual authors.
To celebrate the 40th Welder's Feast, a facsimile of the original manuscript is now available.