Karen Press was born in Cape Town, South Africa. She has worked as a teacher of mathematics and English, and since 1981 has been involved with a range of progressive education projects. She has published seven collections of poetry and has also written textbooks and other education materials in the fields of mathematics, science, economics and English, as well as children’s stories, a film script and stories for newly-literate adults. In 1987 she co-founded the publishing collective Buchu Books. Karen currently works as a freelance editor and writer, and is involved in an initiative to set up a national advice and information support service for South African writers, The Writers’ Network.
Her poetry has appeared in the anthologies Siren Songs (ed. Nohra Moerat, BLAC, 1989), I Qabane Labantu (ed. Ampie Coetzee and Hein Willemse, Taurus, 1989), Breaking the Silence (ed. Cecily Lockett, Ad. Donker, 1991), Like a House on Fire (COSAW, 1994), The Heart in Exile (ed. Tromp and De Kock, Penguin, 1996), My African World (ed. Robin Malan, David Philip, 1996), Somewhere I Have Never Travelled (ed. Terrill Nicolay, Heinemann), The Lava of This Land (ed. Dennis Hirson, Triquarterly/Northwestern University Press, 1997), Running Towards Us: New Writing from South Africa (Heinemann USA, 2000) and It All Begins, (ed. Robert Berold, University of Natal Press, 2002); and in the magazines Staffrider, New Coin, Upstream, New Contrast, Stir, Botsotso, Slug, Boston Review, The Kalahari Review, Bleksem, Wasafiri, Poetry salvaged from Corey’s, New Letters, PN Review, West Coast Line and Illuminations.
Emergency Declarations (found poems, co-produced with Ingrid de Kok, 1985)
This Winter Coming (Cinnamon Crocodile, 1986)
Bird Heart Stoning the Sea (Buchu Books, 1990)
History is the dispossession of the heart (Cinnamon Crocodile, 1992)
The Coffee Shop Poems (Snailpress, 1993)
Echo Location - a guide to Sea Point for residents and visitors (Gecko Books, 1998)
Home (Carcanet, 2000)
The Canary’s Songbook (Carcanet, 2005)
Karen Press translated Antjie Krog’s poem ‘Where I Become You’, published on PIW in March 2009.