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Your Enzymes Are Calling the Ancients (2016)
Winner of the 2015 Lexi Rudnitsky Editor’s Choice Award
Persea Books

Claire Bateman:

As internal as they are universal, these poems are paratactic explorations into the connectivity of all things: the images and narrative fragments evoked by Old Irish runes; the false vacuum of quantum field theory; the color charts of Gerhard Richter; the caddisworm hiding until its wings have formed. . . . This is an extraordinarily rich and linguistically playful concoction.

H. L. Hix:

In the middle of Karen Donovan’s new book, the speaker in one poem notes ‘How I desired a torch and you gave me / a candle saying this is all you need.’  That moment hints at the mystery and marvel of this work: it is not a torch, overwhelming the organs and the intended objects of sight, but a candle, perfecting sight by highlighting its objects and honing its organs. Your Enzymes Are Calling the Ancients is all you need to see more clearly than before.

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Fugitive Red (1999)
Winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry
University of Massachusetts Press

Rain Taxi Review of Books:

Borrowing from the vernacular of science, but distilling her language into cadences and shapes familiar to a quotidian tongue, Donovan’s poems are accessible yet deftly layered inklings into the peculiar narrative of exile.

Poet Lore:

Visual discoveries abound in these poems. Objects of interest come into focus, blur, vanish, and bloom back into clarity or transform into other resonant objects. Endowed with the curiosity of a child, Donovan marvels at found coins and lost stars, scraps of conversation, even a jar of pickled eggs at the grocery store. Her restlessness and curiosity make travel a necessity rather than an indulgence, and she never treks to the same place twice.

The Hollins Critic:

Poet Karen Donovan is an explorer of a strange new land, most remarkably, one which lies in our own backyard. She is a scientist-navigator of words, searching both distant ports and crumbling main streets, furiously scribbling the most intimate details of the world through which she sails.