The Room Between Us
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From the publisher
PBS Recommendation Summer 2022
In her debut collection, Denise Saul explores family and identity as she tells the story of a mother’s illness and subsequent aphasia, and a daughter's ongoing role as carer. At the heart of their relationship is an awareness of the inadequacies of language to name painful experiences as together they start to know the world afresh.
Deeply affecting, the book finds a space for both the extraordinary and the ordinary, balancing all that is between. Such betweenness creates a space to explore wider dynamics of power, and the epiphanies and aftershocks of ongoing loss.
'With the intent gaze and bold grace of the lover and mystic, Denise Saul reveals the beauty and bravery inherent in the humblest everyday objects and actions. These vital poems address a fundamental enigma of human experience – how words bring order to the chaos of the cosmos, and the surreal shapes and unfathomable lacunas the world assumes when language goes into hiding. The Room Between Us is a devastating debut collection and a profound lesson in the subtle art of listening.'
'Denise Saul’s book The Room Between Us is an in depth examination of different forms of care; care for the unwell and also self care. All told with an underlying relationship to mortality and all its reflection, rumination, regret, and fevered dream in the cared for, as well as in the carer. A commanding book on illness, survival and life that speaks directly to the current times we all now live in.'
'An achingly tender debut, a rare gem of a book. Each of these lines contains essential grains helping us to deepen our understanding and teach us so much about complicated love.'
'In the title poem of in The Room Between Us, Denise Saul strikes her minimalist, eerie unforgettable note. A true stylist, Saul is somehow both delicate and bold, her prose poems studied, her lines impeccable. [...] As in a fairytale, language is power and sometimes withholding is the only power left to the patient, "The women hid their tongues when men did not listen to them . . ." Like Lilith in Eden, Saul doesn’t name like a coloniser, she listens, her silences are powerful.'
Martina Evans, The Irish Times
'The book explores the ways families go on interacting with each other when language fails, collapses or is rendered insufficient. [...] As the collection develops, we become aware of how bodily agency, a looming sense of frustration and hope, all work together to complicate individualism. [...] Silence is part of the caregiving experience. The gaps or spaces between lines, horizontally and vertically, are used to build boundaries between body and language. Some poems in the collection follow other experiences of loss: the death of a parent and sibling. In The Room Between Us, what is said and unsaid also invokes a close connection with nature and sound.'
Poetry Book Society Summer Bulletin
"The relationship between a carer and a sick person can be one of the most intimate of our lives; The Room Between Us encourages us to consider how language transforms a personal experience into a universal one."
SK Grout, The Alchemy Spoon
"Denise Saul’s The Room Between Us is, among many things, a liminal space. Rather than simply recreating the four walls of her mother’s care home room, and then adorning them with lyric and imagery, Saul conjures a boundlessly expansive territory that imagines the gardens, sitting rooms, and attics of the mind."
Ariana Benson, Magma Poetry