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paper • 63 pages • 15.95
ISBN-13: 978-1-935536-74-1

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Round Lake

Grace Bonner

“After great pain,” Emily Dickinson wrote, “a formal feeling comes—.” The speaker of the poems in Round Lake knows the feeling and the form: she has lost her entire family, and must recover her own voice after the silence of grief. Parts of this book are set in Greece, connecting personal tragedy with images of stark, beautiful ruins. The short, truncated lines fuse the landscape with the speaker’s breath: “Words scale / and fall in a / similar way, / like hands letting // one field lie / fallow to favor / another.” These poems carry simultaneously the weight of myth and of the all-too-real world.

“Stopping on Delos,” from Round Lake:

I climb a hill
to the temple
of Isis.

Her missing face
looks out
to sea.

All her dreams
are nautical.

Poppies enfold 
her granite 
pedestal. 

A bump, a burr, 
a barnacle, 

flecked with red 
paint, clings to 
her waist. 

Stub-thumb 
of an ancient 
child. Pagan 

mother, take 
my hand—tiny, 
unsculpted, living.

 

About the Author


  • “Lamentation and praise are the two presiding emotions of this vibrantly elegiac book. I find the balance between them original and enticing, as new growth continually emerges from the black earth's crevices.” — Henri Cole
  • “Bonner’s voice is crystalline with song even where loss has shattered the windows and hidden the sun. The possibility of love still streams through these poems—such is the power of their tenderness and ferocity. Love by way of witness, dream, memory, of making music out of ache. Lakes and roads and childhoods can (must) be escaped and escaped to. Every image is gorgeously precise and everyone is alive in this collection: a book of how to live with ghosts, how to endure and accept life’s refracting, reflective beauty when we are inconsolable.” — Brenda Shaughnessy
  • "Bonner’s haunting, intimate poetry functions as a cathartic outlet and serves as a comforting map of emotions for anyone that has felt unnavigable sorrow..." —Publishers Weekly Read the full review here.
  • "...If the poems in this book are charms against 'a serpent in the heart,' like the one that takes the sister, then the book is a bedside grimoire for use in an uncaring world...The book is a node. Call it funny, call it serious, call Siri, and call your sister." —The Rumpus Read the full review here.
  • "The suicide of the poet’s sister, evoked in the book’s opening 'Incantation,' hovers ghost-like over many of these poems. Yet despite its sadness, Bonner’s poetry can’t help but embrace the small joys of memory and careful observation: 'What’s left of you / arrives in morning / sun streaming.'" —The Santa Barbara Independent Read the full review here.