John Dennison's first collection, Otherwise, is a finely crafted marvel. The poems here are concerned, above all, with love, and with the strange, unlooked-for manner of its appearances among us. Marked by an emotional acuity and formal deftness, the lyricism of Otherwise draws us into confrontations with human equivocacy and finitude. A trio of elegies for poet Seamus Heaney is moving; a heart-shaking sequence recounts an encounter in Calcutta. Ranging globally from Scotland to Dunedin, Otherwise also sits firmly in the New Zealand literary tradition, with poems which take in Baxter's bees, Bethell's gardening, Duggan's amends and Curnow's 'surge-black fissure'. And here, too, because 'some things bear repeating', are singular moments of turning, of grace and our refusals. This is a moving, meditative and vulnerable manifesto from an assured new voice.
John Dennison was born in Sydney in 1978, and grew up in Tawa. He has lived and studied in Wellington, Dunedin and St Andrews, Scotland, and now lives with his family in Wellington, where he is a university chaplain. His poems have appeared in magazines in the UK, New Zealand and Australia, and were anthologised in Carcanet's New Poetries V (2011); several poems have also been published in Italian translation. John Dennison is also the author of Seamus Heaney and the Adequacy of Poetry (Oxford, forthcoming 2015).