Karen Dennison

Poet and artist

The Memory of Water by Abegail Morley


I recently collaborated with Abegail Morley on her poetry pamphlet The Memory of Water (see one of the poems below). She wrote the poems as poet-in-residence for the National Trust at Scotney Castle (see Poet-in-residence – is this for you?) and I responded with photographs which I took at and around the castle and then layered and altered using Photoshop. The images appear on the cover and inside to mark the beginning of each of three sections. We decided to use black-and-white photos to reflect the atmosphere of this collection.


Puzzle of Brick and Stone (front cover image)

“In these beautiful poems, inspired by the medieval manor house Scotney castle, in Kent, the water of its famous moat is custodian of the manor’s history and does indeed lick at the past, tasting broadswords, releasing the heady swell of wild garlic that grows on its banks. And the language reflects this medium, is fluid, musical, reflective, as it raises characters from Scotney’s past – a hidden priest, the smuggler who faked his own death and burial – and interweaves these histories with imagined occupants and visitors with dramas of their own…”

Jo Hemmant, author of The Light Knows Tricks (Doire Press)


What the moat knows

For a long time afterwards water carries the burden
of its trauma, remembers how shifting ripples

once reached the moat’s edge as it made way
for the body heaved into its depths. Stunned fish

shot under logs, staffs of light silently dashed
for cover as his limbs, swung like rope, turned

and knuckled into dark corners. It was the stones
that weighed him down, pressed him through

the slits of the moat’s velvet cloth. His heart
already hushed, his doll-eyed stare left watching silt

whirl upwards until there was nowhere else to fall.

Abegail Morley

2 thoughts on “The Memory of Water by Abegail Morley

  1. I am so pleased to see you & Abi working together on a project like this. It seems to me that both of you tuned in to the history & mystery & perhaps ghosts of Scotney Castle. And your photoshopping & layering of images feels to me such an appropriate away to respond. I’m so glad you included the cover image in this post. I’ve been enlarging it twice to peer at the amazing detail of stone & branches & lichen. Great work.

  2. Pingback: Unlocking Creativity with Karen Dennison – The Poetry Shed

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