In this debut collection, Katie Lehman pays tribute to Emily Dickinson, with homage to the nineteenth-century American poet’s lexicon of fierce vulnerability. Some poems quote Dickinson verbatim. Others channel Dickinson’s radiant spirit in lyric narratives that reflect Lehman’s own journey through a life lived close to the earth. We learn about Benedictine nuns tending the Victorian walled garden and farm at Kylemore Abbey on the west coast of Ireland, a newborn calf on a Mennonite dairy farm in Northern Indiana, the poet’s coming-of-age among horses in Ohio, and school picture day during the Covid pandemic with her young son. Like Dickinson’s, Lehman’s poems pose a precise questioning of suffering and death through an inherent lens of light and hope. In the end, Lehman creates an emotional lexicon of her own that urges us not merely to enter but to bask in the sheer exuberance of language and find transport.
“A keen and informed naturalist whose lushly descriptive and lyric meditations reveal ‘the measures that defy time,’ Katie Lehman ranges among herbariums, gardens, and farmscapes home and away, building a potent kinship with the larger-than-human world. Lexicon is a dazzling read—a haunted and haunting debut.” —Jane Satterfield, author of The Badass Brontës and Apocalypse Mix
“While the spirit of Emily Dickinson resides throughout this brilliant, richly observed debut, Katie Lehman’s own lexicon—vibrant, immersed in history, yet strikingly contemporary—is a force truly to be reckoned with. These are poems of deep feeling and even deeper intelligence, ablaze with unforgettable images of rural Irish life, the pendulum swings of time’s long passage, and the memory of loved ones (both human and animal) given lasting form in language of rare delicacy and impact.” —Ned Balbo, author of The Cylburn Touch-Me-Nots and 3 Nights of the Perseids
Katie Lehman received an MFA from the University of Notre Dame in 1999. While at Notre Dame, she was the recipient of the 1998 Billy Maich Academy of American Poets Prize, an award given to a Notre Dame student, graduate or undergraduate, for excellence in poetry. From 2004 to 2010, Lehman was assistant editor at the University of Notre Dame Press and for many years has served as a personal editor for her former teacher, the American poet, translator, and David Jones scholar John Matthias. She is the editor of Matthias's REGROUNDING A PILGRIMAGE (Dos Madres, 2018), a collaboration with John Peck and Robert Archambeau.