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Born in 1969, Karen Dennison's passion for poetry began in her early thirties.
Her poems have been published in South, Orbis, The New Writer, Ink Sweat and Tears and poetrywivenhoe 2011.
Karen won the Indigo Dreams Collection Competition in 2011.
Indigo Dreams Publishing
Publication 13 /02/ 2012
138 x 216mm
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“Karen Dennison’s first collection, Counting Rain, is a quiet and moving series of poems, in which the most recurrent theme is the loss of childhood, and the way it lodges in the memory. ‘Here’ she writes, ‘are the rooms of our childhood,/ the walls where we wrote our names.’ This is a skilful, perfectly disarming series of pieces, in which disquiet and tension lie just beneath the surface, held there carefully while the writer investigates moments of loss, love, discovery – the whole collection is like a stealthy and imaginative search for the way the past and present impact upon one another. Its timing and its imagery are exceptionally exact: this is a life that we recognise, in which the writer uses her own experience to make us think about our own. It’s wonderful – a genuine journey, trodden and re-trodden, one that’s a privilege to share.”
“Karen Dennison’s poems explore both the vastness of space and the intimacy of what passes between people in the cycle of birth, death, and what happens in between. She has a scientist’s concern for precision, but a poet’s ear for lyric. Her poems are direct and powerfully emotional in their desire to seek a pattern in chaos and to wake the ghosts of memory. An exciting debut.”
“Dennison’s poems bristle with disquiet and transformation. Her images leap off the page and look you right in the eye.”
I left the safety of your arms
for the vacuum of outer space.
I looked back to see you mouthing
like a fish. I couldn't read your lips.
My blood did not boil but
seethed beneath the skin.
My hands swelled, filling
the space left by yours.
I stared into the sun.
The last thing I remember, tears
were simmering in my eyes and your name
had boiled on my tongue.
I wind and wind, feel the pressure build.
The key-hole is empty, its key long lost.
Ivory paint is chipped off pale wood,
but the red rose is perfectly furled.
Opening the lid, your eyes are my eyes.
A ballerina in a skirt of dusty net
jerks to life; her clockwork pirouette
leads me to a dressing table, a sunlit bed,
stories of brooches, pearls, and rings.
I lift the velvet tray, watch the spool spin;
its spikes pluck the teeth of a silver comb
playing Für Elise in doll’s house notes.
Lowering the lid, I catch your scent,
breathe you in, and out again.
Your belly is rounded, palimpsest of moon.
Feet-up, you wait, eyes scanning the flickering screen.
The grainy transmissions are like the silvered crater
of my skull, the muffled chambers of my heart.
Through egg-shell skin, I see
a hazy light, turn like a heliotrope.
As he takes his momentous step, you feel
me kick. We're almost weightless, he and I,
suspended between worlds. But I resist
the pull of earth, the first breathless glimpse,
begin one last slow-motion somersault,
not yet ready to breathe for myself.
Home from lessons, she splinters
her mouth, presses a fork against
the tight membrane of her lips.
She curls up on her bed and shrinks
inside her shell, wrapping her face
with embryonic wings.
Fracture lines spread from her mouth
to her eyes. In her sleep
brittle tears scratch her cheeks.
Morning is a film of skin. The jigsaw
of her face lies on her pillow. She stretches
the pieces, seals a smile.
Today at school she'll rehearse her laugh.
She kneels at the window.
Each splash is a dull surrender,
a colourless dawning.
She seeks a pattern
in the chaos of grey,
traces with her finger a languid cross.
She starts to count but her eyes
roll down the pane, following
the jagged prayer of a single drop.
As it reaches its unanswered end,
she lifts her face to a godless sky,
and begins from one again.
She wrapped her guilt in silk, buried it
in hard earth. Each slicing of the spade
jarred her bones. She dragged a concrete slab,
piled up bricks on top. She scattered flowers
to hide the smell; no fox would dig up
her shame. She tended the plot every day,
speaking to herself. Finally, she stopped;
brushed off wilted roses, un-piled the bricks
and removed the stone, let weeds grow
from remorse. Years later she unearths
a lacework of roots, tattered scraps of silk
and bones of forgiveness.