Poetry | paper | $15.95 | 148 pgs | ISBN-13: 978-1-945588-40-2

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Sydney Lea

In his thirteenth book of poetry, Sydney Lea gives voice to the deep connection between human life and the natural world as well as their fragility and transience. Here, nature is as much a muse as a trigger for sense memory—as a schoolboy on a playground “breathing in autumn mud, / that cherished aroma” or as witness to a redtail hawk’s attack and the aftermath during which “That poor doomed duckling’s wisps of down / Floated in air like snowflakes, /Diaphanous.” Death is a constant presence in these poems, too, arising from the bittersweet awareness of what eventually will be lost. While there is reckoning, there are few regrets in a life well-lived and closely observed. Here is a title, but it’s also a statement, an incantation and affirmation: “Let’s chant it throughout the year,” Lea writes, “like so much birdsong: we’re here we’re here we’re here.”

Older Age

So much for glory from the morning glories.
Leaves at their margins turn tawny.
I quickly seek other signs—

It’s what I do. I’m a poet. The migrant
Flickers gather in byways.
There’s a blur of spectral tail-spots

When I flush them, although my driving is slow,
Reactions no longer speedy,
Except for those that are:

Scrawny maples in the swamps have kindled,
There’s the first fall warbler—How dismal,
I think, How time goes by,

As if it were yesterday. And so on.
Yet our neighbor’s puppy has doubled
Her weight in just eight weeks.

Old fool, get onto your feet, do something,
Confucius said, Be useful.
Winter firewood still needs stacking.

Praise by Jane Hirshfield
Praise by Cleopatra Mathis
Praise by Raúl Niño for Booklist
Praise by Grace Cavalieri for Washington Independent Review of Books
Praise from Publishers Weekly
Praise by Chard deNiord for On The Seawall

“Sydney Lea has always been a poet equally eloquent and wide-eyed before reality. This self-aware book of experience, stock-taking, and memory finds him just now, just here, a person still hopeful in the face of it all, a poet at the height of his powers.” —Jane Hirshfield

“Because Sydney Lea is a poet who doesn’t stand outside his subject, his work is committed, above all, to everything that constitutes connection—nature, community, and family. His latest book is a testament to what can be said, what can be felt at the transition between life and death, the marginal line between what he knows and what he will lose. …It is not so much the recognition of change and loss that Lea appraises, but the consciousness of being itself….this poet embraces the world around him with gratitude and joy.” —Cleopatra Mathis

“…This radiant collection will leave readers counting their blessings past, to come, and most certainly right here.” Read the full review.

“…In clear, direct language that moves like silk, we find every experience interesting — poems about family, daughter, grandchildren, the doughnut baker. It shows a poet being the best he can be, engaged fully with every breath and each living moment….”Read the full review.

“…Interspersed with Lea’s musings on his life are his luminous descriptions of the world around him, including the ‘elegance and composure’ of a flock of circling vultures, and a first blush of spring ‘with snowdrops glinting, the freshets making their evanescent cascades through the woods.’ The refrain of aging and death echoes throughout and is tempered by Lea’s gentle optimism and appreciation for every facet of life. These poems provide readers with a potent antidote to hopelessness.” Read the full review.

“…Reminiscing in his muscular yet tender poems about ordinary events that trigger ironically extraordinary narratives, Lea finds way to instill his experiences with cathectic imagery….” Read the full review.