Monday, November 11, 2019

A Generous Latitude — Lenea Grace (ECW Press)

Today's book of poetry:
A Generous Latitude.  Lenea Grace.  ECW Press.  Toronto, Ontario.  2018.

Anyone who can write a fine poem and have it end in St. Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! is alright by Today's book of poetry standards.  Lenea Grace does this and so much more in A Generous Latitude.  Grace reads like an experienced pro in the debut collection, her grit shines and she has some panache.

Lenea Grace has Guy Lafleur's disco-hockey record in one poem and Larry (GOAT) Bird's old French Lick Converse All-Stars in another.  If neither name means anything to you — you are way to young to be reading poetry.  The same might be said of Grace's nod to the effervescent Kate and Anna McGarrigle, who make an appearance in an ode to Montreal.  And as Today's book of poetry writes this blog/review their is the realization that Lenea Grace may be the poet most dialed into Today's book of poetry's zeitgeist.

Pressure Drop

Take a glass milk bottle
and drop a lit match down
the windowed shaft.
Take a hardboiled man,
peel him, and balance
him upon the mouth-

His pelvis will meet
the opening, torso
and limbs shoot
east and west. Tap
his left foot and he will spin,
smouldered rod and flesh
and glass.

He is no weathervane,
caught unawares by the high
pressure system that circles wrists,
grazes buttocks and spine.
No match for the match,
burnt and low, feverish.

You cannot adjust
these temperatures, outside
and inside. You cannot stop
reverse ignition. You will not
not watch. When it happens
you will not watch.

And it will happen.
The bottle will strangle
his size, distort
his body: a muscled parabola,
sucking down and down,
snapping vertebrae, folding,
palms touching palms,

necks and shoulders.
Shoulders and necks
and shoulders will catch
the necks and the necks
will catch the shoulders.
Pop and release.


Today's book of poetry is happy to announce that Lenea Grace's A Generous Latitude adds another fine "list" poem to the lexicon and we'll be happy to run it by you.


Because the Atlantic.
Because the Pacific.
Because the hemispheres.
Because the equator, the belted cinching of guts, the green and the blue.
Because the guts.
Because the flaws.
Because we are heavy.
Because we are raw.
Because my mother has nerves.
Because my father shave his mustache in 1981. and 1983. 1987.
Because his father wrote with his left hand.
Because Zuma rains.
Because lobsters shriek.
Because old men play cribbage in undershirts.
Because birches peel.
Because dogs know.
Because lakes smoke.
Because that teacher told me to mouth the words.
Because there are indoor voice and outdoor voices.
Because there are indoor shoes and outdoor shoes and no shoes at all.
Because because.
Because there are hands.
Because we carve our names in desks.
Because we carve our names in stone.
Because we are not permanent.
Because we singe our eyes.
Because there are eyes,
the scratched inky things,
the sanding of iris,
the sleep of because.


A Generous Latitude  makes you think Lenea Grace would be a cool person to spend time with, witty funny and a little dangerous.  Her poems are observational gems, situation comedies with dark intentions.  Grace burns.

Today's book of poetry was even able to tolerate Grace's admiration for David Hasselhoff, which comes off as a both a gentle caress and the proverbial kick in the ass.

The Why And The How

Why are boats always women, and
where is Long Lake —
how you ride my mind

how to pet a dead horse
how to feed this hoop snake
and always why boats are women.

Why bathtubs crawl on fours,
and how water grows opaque
and still — you ride my mind:

run grey galleys worn and coarse,
teak and holly slats, the strakes,
If boats are always women

then men are the oars — slicing
pink for pink's sake:
you ride my mind

in circles. There is no shore
for us, only questions in the lake —
why boats are always women
and how you ride my mind.


The more humorous Lenea Grace tries to be the more human/humane she sounds which is a great trick.  And trick is the wrong word, Grace comes at the reader head-on and once she gets there she stands her ground.  A Generous Latitude burns like the best.

Lenea Grace

Lenea Grace’s work has appeared in Best New Poets, The Fiddlehead, Washington Square Review, CV2, Riddle Fence, Grain, and elsewhere. She is a graduate of McGill University, University of Maine at Presque Isle, and The New School. Lenea is a founding editor of The Mackinac poetry magazine. She grew up in Texas and Oklahoma, spending her summers at Long Lake and John Island in northern Ontario. She lives in Gibsons, British Columbia.


Important Poetry Bulletin:
Today's book of poetry just hit 700,000 readers.  Thank you, each and every one of you.



Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration.