Lovely

Headmistress Press, January 2018

LovelyBuy This Book

 

To order a signed copy of Lovely, download this order form or click the payment button below. For each book ordered in this way, Lesléa will donate $1.00 to the Matthew Shepard Foundation so that they can continue the fine work they do to erase hate and replace it with acceptance, respect and love.

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Lovely is an eclectic poetry collection that takes the reader on a journey as the speaker of the poems travels from childhood through young adulthood, to finally become a “woman of a certain age” who has gained insight and wisdom along the way. Many subjects are touched upon including loss of innocence, mother/daughter relationships, aging, self-acceptance, grief, the sharp pain of violence against women and the LGBTQIA community, and the deep pleasure of long-term love. Written with Lesléa Newman’s signature passion and wit, these well-crafted and accessible poems are full of startling, poignant, and powerful imagery and will stay with the reader for a long time to come.

Reviews

“It might be expected to begin a review of Lesléa Newman’s newest poetry collection Lovely by saying that the poems that comprise this collection are themselves lovely, but this collection seems a poignant, playful, and earnest place to explore the tender truism Charles Simic once wrote in an inscription to Mark Strand, that ‘the dream of every honest cliché is to enter a great poem.’ Indeed, poem after great poem, Newman, author of over 70 books of poetry, prose, and children’s literature, realizes in Lovely this dream of many honest clichés.”

On first read, I thought of Lovely as a series of lyrical footnotes to I Carry My Mother, filling in the details of a life surrounding those pangs of grief with the stuff of living. Many poems were informed by a Jewish lesbian’s relationship with her Jewish mother. On re-reads, however, it is much more than a chronicle of one relationship and a particular moment in time, it is a narrative of myriads of relationship that speak of the universal tasks of growing up, becoming an adult, finding and holding onto love, facing aging, and all of this without glossing over the ever-present reality of homophobia. Her ear for poetry displays a well-read poet, who plies her craft with precision and originality as well as nods to the canon.

“Lesléa Newman lures the love poem into beguiling territory in her new collection Lovely. Funny, sassy, tender, Newman knows how to entice a line—with formal dazzle she gives us the beat of the repeat (the villanelle, the triolet) in her pitch-perfect, lucid voice. With a marvelous mimic’s ear, she even conjures up her recently deceased mother’s exasperating advice as feisty love-loss litanies. Newman examines the sheer loveliness of girlhood as she lived it and observes it now, reveling in the girly side of adult lesbian love in a woman’s long relationship with her butch. As the poet leads us from childhood to the pleasures of mature love—yes, in a garden, too—she sketches a self-portrait over time, from makeup to curls. Calling all Lesléa Newman fans: alluring Lovely is a must for your shelf.”

“Wise, sharp, sometimes rueful, often witty, always self-aware, Lesléa Newman’s Lovely ranges across the landscape of human experience, reflecting on the moral complexity of childhood, the many phases of Newman’s relationship with her mother, growing up and growing old, and the lifelong weave of sex and love. Lovely offers a kaleidoscope variety of forms, including ghazals, villanelles, and playful forms of Newman’s own invention, such as ‘My Mother’s Stories,’ a marvelous portrait composed almost entirely out of soap opera titles.”

“Lovely is an adventure and a romp, a slide through loves, a trip back in time, a reflection of earlier days. There are poems where Newman allows us to hear her mother’s voice, her admonitions, the Brooklyn accent, the cadences, the oft-repeated clichés, in a playful way. In the final section, we find an unleashed exuberance, a celebration of same-sex marriage, an all-abiding adoration for a life partner, and also, throughout, an over-arching love for life, for mangoes and chocolate, a ‘Paradise Found.’”

“In her new collection Lovely, Lesléa Newman takes us on a long glittering walk through nostalgia, from her childhood memories in New York City, to silver sequined mini-dresses and steamy woman love. She holds up a world that is crumbling in our very sight. She holds us close as she guides us through the hardships of being homeless and displaced, being young and queer and still not accepted in our world. Her words are raw and tender, transparent and visceral. She holds nothing back. She aches with a vulnerability that both calls us out and challenges us to do our part to make our planet safe and inhabitable.”

“In this book, innocence yields to awakening, cruelty softens into compassion, and ever-present delight tussles with ever-looming death. Lovely offers tender requiems, taut memories, hot pink love letters, and odes to the edible. Poet Lesléa Newman writes with rhythm, humor, sensuality and care. Lovely is just that!”

Excerpts

I Want To Stay Up Talking But

You kiss me at midnight and tell me to hush
I lie back in bed and do just as you say
Feeling my cheeks and my chest start to blush
You kiss me at midnight and tell me to hush
Then make it quite clear that you’re not in a rush
The new year is here and we’re happy and gay
You kiss me at midnight and tell me to hush
I lie back in bed and do just as you say

Audio Excerpt: “1955-2001: A Hair Odyssey”


Copyright ©2016 by Lesléa Newman

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