These poems describe the outside world with a luminous grasp of detail, clarity, connection. Soon enough in every poem it seems the external world is giving way to a subtle interior of feeling and nuance. What is surprising is the command of language and music in which this occurs, and the sheer precision of both. There are pleasures on every page here, making this one of the best debut collections I have read.
The birds that populate Shara Lessley’s rich and elegant debut collection are avatars that mediate experiences of loss and violence haunting the deepest reaches of the human psyche. In language that is luxurious and musical Lessley creates the two-headed nightingale that is not so much a freak of nature as it is a paradox of the imagination and as such its special and disturbing gift of sight gives us access to the terrible and beautiful double nature of the self.
Shara Lessley has a scrupulous eye for the natural world, for the detail of memory, for the seemingly ordinary in which she often finds the surprise, the bizarre, or a painful past. In language that is sharp and clear, in forms that are disciplined by a discerning mind, she also explores the lives of liminal women and American outsiders. This is a first book you shouldn’t miss.
Shara Lessley is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry. Her awards include an Artist Fellowship from the State of North Carolina, the Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellowship from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, an Olive B. O’Connor Fellowship from Colgate University, The Gilman School’s Tickner Fellowship, and a “Discovery”/The Nation prize. Shara’s poems have appeared inPloughshares, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, and The Missouri Review, among others. She currently lives in Amman, Jordan.