• The Pilgrim

A Sense of Tiptoe by Karen Hayes

I’ve been re-immersing myself into more poetry as of late, it’s something that I’ve long tried to avoid as, being a poet and writer, it’s an area where I always found myself overly critical. However, having re-immersed myself recently and taken my proverbial blinkers off I’ve rediscovered a genre that I’ve missed greatly, and one of two reasons I was looking forward to delving into Karen Hayes’s new collection A Sense Of Tiptoe and other articles of faith. The other reason I was eager to pick up A Sense of Tiptoe is as a Religious Scholar the idea of ‘articles of faith’ appealed to my inner fascination immediately.

A Sense of Tiptoe takes the reader through a series of observations on faith, humanity and indeed our lack of faith. In many ways I’ve always found poetry to be a very condensed form of short story and it takes a genuine skill to get it right, and in A Sense of Tiptoe Karen Hayes’s skill is certainly shining through, creating visuals in crumbling church features, kings from our ancient history, Angels ‘scooping’ the scene is set for anyone without leaving the comfort of their armchair.

Yet religion isn’t the only aspect of this collection, folklore plays an important part in the poem The Hurlers which takes its name from a legend, in which men were playing Cornish hurling on a Sunday and were magically transformed into stones as punishment, as does local Cornish history and the legends of the poet, Reverend Hawker, and how they all bind and weave their way through to our present, maintaining their foothold among the people. Faith in these aspects are a different kind of faith, and that is one of the many aspects in which A Sense of Tiptoe remains as engaging as it does from the first page to the last.

One of the many interesting aspects I found in A Sense of Tiptoe is reading the notes at the end of the collection, which really is a very engaging and fascinating four page essay, that not only is the collection split into three sections (Definite, Indefinite and Infinite), each denoting their own individual characteristics and themes but learning that a number of the poems were written as part of song-cycles with composer Thomas Johnson, which leaves me wondering what the full experience would have felt like if these are just the written part. It’s an experience I’d like to witness.

In A Sense of Tiptoe Karen Hayes creates an engaging, illuminating and entertaining collection of poetry from a writer who has not only learned and has a deep understanding of her craft, ensuring not a single word is wasted.

A Sense Of Tiptoe and other articles of faith by Karen Hayes is published by Holland Park Press (£8.00). To order a copy go to

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