The Beating Heart is an allusion to the continuous pulsing of feelings that lie beneath the surface reality of our lives. This 90-page collection of poems, which includes internationally published and awarded works, explores themes of memory, both personal and inherited; the spiritual dislocation that so often accompanies emigration; and above all the rift between what appears to be and what is felt.
Through her poetry, the author ‘slips into the lining’ of various experiences from a childhood in the ancient city of Rome, whose ‘famous walls bulged with sanctioned corruption’ to the loneliness of a London bedsit, ‘narrow as a capsule, a chilly low-cost limbo’, to the lure of a Sydney bushwalk, where ‘mist lies over the grass, the trees, the everything, as lightly as a suggestion’.
The elegant assurance of these meditative and melodic lines reminds us that poetry can be, as the author believes, ‘a form of music’.
There is an urgent stillness to much of this work, drawing the reader in with its tenderness towards every aspect of the experience of living … This is a poised and polished entrée.
Anne Casey, poet
Denise O’Hagan was born in Rome and lives in Sydney. She has a background in commercial book publishing and is Poetry Editor for Australia/New Zealand for Irish literary journal The Blue Nib. Her poetry is published widely and has received numerous awards, most recently the Dalkey Poetry Prize 2020. Her debut poetry collection, The Beating Heart, is published by Ginninderra Press – https://denise-ohagan.com.