Stomata, Genevieve Lehr’s second collection, asks that language shoulder loss, that it reach out centrifugally, at full metaphorical stretch, calling upon all its narrative and lyric resources to be adequate to human tragedy. These losses include immediate deaths, Alzheimer’s, abuse, cancer, and — in a remarkable poem — residential schools, and they activate a potent spirituality that calls on a full range of imagistic resources.
As a grief book, Stomata is remarkable for its energy and range. While it honours and remembers the lost, it is always charged with a sense of a mystic power deriving from them. “In a conversation between Homer and Hermes, loss was found to be a gift,” writes Lehr. The result is the poetic experience of a vitalistic universe in which “Metamorphosis is everywhere”: a grief-enhanced rather than a grief-stricken vision. In Lehr’s poems, one keeps being struck by a simultaneity of mundane and cosmic, as can be see in the first lines of her opening long poem: “In the latter half of the third quarter of the waning moon / I sit at the table drinking tea.”
This is a book that is constantly provocative, alive with spirit and a restless energy in the face of disaster.
Praise for Stomata:
“… One can return again and again … and still discover new insights. The range of reference is wide and surprising—Nâzim Hikmet, Bobbie Gentry, Milarepa, St. Francis—the language dissociative, the rhythms often raw and out of order. There’s something elevated, germinal, fascinating here.” — Jury Citation from The Malahat Review’s 2015 Long Poem Prize
Poetry Snapshot — Herizons
After Sorrow, What? — Canadian Literature
National Poetry Month Book Reviews – David Starkey Reviews 30 Works of Poetry — Santa Barbara Independent