Karen Dennison is the first of this new year’s Featured Writers. I first met Karen on Bill Greenwell’s Poetry Clinic so we go back a long way and we first met in person at the launch of Bill Greenwell’s collection, Ringers at the Poetry Café. It is always fun to meet virtual friends and of course after doing poetry clinics with Bill you always feel you have been through the mill together so there is a particular bond. (oops, sorry, Bill, but mills are good things to go through!)
Anyway, I love Karen’s book Counting Rain (published by Indigo Dreams who are publishing so many great writers these days). It is like looking into a pool of fresh water where you see things you didn’t know were there, but you realise then you did but somehow hadn’t noticed. Each poem is pitch perfect and the collection never flags in its clarity and freshness. It is a book to keep beside your bed to enrich your own life and your dreams.
Bill Greenwell said this about it: 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.
I am going to give you another poem from the collection as I don’t think one is enough. I have lots of favourites especially Wrinkles and That Christmas but here is the title poem which unusually is second last in the book.
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.