Published: September, 2014
Dive into Karen George’s Swim Your Way Back, a moving chronicle of the poet’s life with her husband—two lives that intersect and entwine like cloverleaves (the opening poem’s title) and ultimately again divide when his death, too soon from cancer, caused him to “breach this life, frailties trickling off you like crystals.” George’s first full-length poetry collection takes its readers into new awareness of language and life as she carries us on a journey—of a marriage, of cancer, and a literal journey as the couple takes a final trip together to and on Alaska’s high seas. “You shimmer endlessly,” George writes of her dead husband’s appearance in a dream. These poems shimmer like light on water, like the right words illuminating the human experience. —Pauletta Hansel
“The woods hum around us like a second skin,” writes Karen L. George. The poems in her collection, Swim Your Way Back, reveal not only the sensuality of the poet, but that of her husband, the natural world, ordinary objects, and language itself. Even loss is rendered and redeemed in this collection, tethered as it is to the evolving, interconnected world that George so closely observes. —Rhonda Pettit
Swim Your Way Back describes through narrative and meditative poems the extraordinary moments two people experience within the most difficult of circumstances. They live fully present to their shared journey, finding grace in the snap of a heron’s wings, noticing the muscles packed within the thighs of a racehorse, hearing the hum of the woods as they walk, the woods their second skin. George lyrically shapes sensory detail to reveal their intensity of life even as one diminishes; she skillfully crafts with each poem a love story that does not end with the book. —Claudia Skutar
Why do I keep your glasses? Gold, elongated
hexagons connected by an arched bridge,
spring-hinged temples that end in tiger-eye tips.
Silicon nose pads that retain the oil of your skin.
Smudged lenses I won’t wipe clear.
I touch but can’t read the raised
symbols of their strength, settle
the frame on my nose, adjust to hug
my ears, peer in the mirror. How wavy I am,
as if gazed through old glass. I want to know
how you viewed me, and the hummingbird:
ruby throat, emerald back, forked tail, whirring wings.
Karen George is author of the poetry chapbooks Into the Heartland (Finishing Line Press, 2011) and Inner Passage (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014). She has received grants from The Kentucky Foundation for Women and The Kentucky Arts Council. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Louisville Review, Memoir, Tupelo Press 30/30 Website, Cortland Review, Permafrost, Blue Lyra Review, Slippery Elm, Wind, and Still. She holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University, and has taught fiction writing at The University of Cincinnati. You can read her interviews and poetry reviews at Poetry Matters: http://readwritepoetry.blogspot.com. She is co-founder and fiction editor of the online literary and art journal, Waypoints, at: http://www.waypointsmag.com.