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The Murray State News

Allen-Dunn returns to writing in literary debut

Photo courtesy of Charley Allen-Dunn.

Many people begin college with one plan and leave with another. It’s common to find that your passion may not pay as well as a different skill. However, it is still possible to chase the dreams and achieve the goals that first fueled you.

Charley Allen-Dunn, director of Web Management and Digital Marketing, made her literary debut with a 15-piece poetry collection titled “The Scar It Leaves” on Jan. 12.

Allen-Dunn attended Murray State from 1999 to 2003 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. She said her passion for writing began early in life, leading her to pursue her major and goal of being a writer. As a student worker,she worked on websites and took an interest in web management. Though her main career path changed, Allen-Dunn continued to write poems periodically as a way to manage thoughts and emotions.

“[Writing poetry] is something I’ve done on and off for as long as I can remember,” Allen-Dunn said. “It’s how I work through things in my mind. It really helps with that.”

Her poetry often has a narrative structure, capturing small but memorable moments. She said many poems in “The Scar It Leaves” are connections between childhood memories and current events in her life. Sometimes, past journal entries will influence her works.

The poems share real and imagined situations through a relatable lens, exploring themes of grief, generational trauma, addiction, relationships and love. She uses her writing as an avenue to explore how those themes set a path for people in their adult lives.

Allen-Dunn found the inspiration to share her work when walking in the woods with local painter and former Murray State professor Robert William Head. 

“He started having me read my poetry [to him],” said Allen-Dunn. “He encouraged me to do something with it and said he thought I had things that are worth saying.”

She took Head’s encouragement into a competition for unpublished female poets. She gathered some of her works with a common theme into a poetry collection called a chapbook. Her entry reached the semifinals, and Finishing Line Press, a small poetry press based in Georgetown, Kentucky, decided to publish her collection. 

The lengthy publication process began in Nov. 2022. With her poems soon to be available to a widespread audience, Allen-Dunn said she is excited and nervous.

“I put a lot of myself into it, and so it is very much me in a lot of ways,” Allen-Dunn said. “But then there’s the parts that aren’t all me, not all factual and true. So not knowing how perception of that will go is a little bit scary.”

After publishing “The Scar It Leaves” and attending a writer’s residency through the Kentucky Foundation for Women, she said would love to publish again in the future. Her long-time passion for writing never left her, and it has now made her a published author.

“Don’t let go of the things you’ve always wanted. Maybe they’ll happen,” Allen-Dunn said.

“The Scar It Leaves” is available for purchase through the website of local business Bolin Books, as well as Finishing Line Press’s website, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

The Murray Art Guild will host a reading and free book signing on Friday, Feb. 2 at 6 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Gray Hawkins
Gray Hawkins, Staff writer
Gray Hawkins is a freshman journalism major. They enjoy writing, reading, listening to some music and playing D&D. Some of their favorite book series are: The Inheritance Cycle, Six of Crows and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. They spend most of their time in the dorm with their ESA bearded dragon, Monarch.

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