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KSER Seattle Interview. Listen Now!
Interview with Gary Lemons about his new book Snake published by Red Hen Press with J. Glenn Evans host of Poets West on Seattle Radio Station KSER. Click here to hear the interview...
Reviews and praise for Gary’s latest novel, Snake:
Snake is a brilliant, ambitious book of 63 dramatic monologues in five sections, almost 150 pages, on apocalypse and rebirth enacted by a cast of four, from an upcoming small press in Southern California. Lemons’ Chorus provides the commentary.
“Every truth got its dark side / Some folks call the lie.”
Earth kicks off the story by destroying the troublesome human species and all other life in retribution for man’s transgressions—except for snake, the central character, the tragic-comic figure of eternity and dream. (A fourth character, god, makes a deus ex machina appearance toward the end.) Meanwhile, snake has a job to do to “save the fire” that has engulfed the world. Throughout, he struggles with memories and unanswered questions fighting “in the closet of the brain / Like old suits struggling with moths.” There is more than a glancing reference to global warming here, but with his gift for metaphor and dramatic voice, echoing the great John Berryman’s “Dream Songs,” and with his light touch, Lemons keeps the text crackling with energy and verve. As he is wondering why “we got to being / Down the whirlwind on ourselves,” snake is simultaneously “salivating about the good taste/ Of a bone still got some of the critter on it” (“Snake’s Karma”).
(read review online by clicking here)
Gary Lemons' Snake is a brave and beautiful book--a trippy, visionary ride to the end of the world, where all is in flames except for Snake, who remains as a repository of all Earth's memories and shared consciousness.
Lemons' poetry is disarmingly simple, like a folk or blues lyric: "Time keeps on passin--til it's not / recognizable as time but feels more like / Dreamin in a tide pool beside a warmin / Sea where blood sacks couple in the waves." But there are hidden depths and meanderings, musicality where you'd least expect it. For a reptile, Snake is a surprisingly compassionate bearer of memory. He longs to be loved and remembered as were others who went before him: "Snake knows the dead be happier cause they got / One another for company and if he could / Only die, which he can't, he never be alone again."
While Snake is a long, rambling, apocalyptic dream that plays out in the head of a slithering everyman, it is also a tear-filled lament for wildlife and traditions we are on the verge of losing now--and a meditation on the push and pull of shared and specific consciousness as Snake fights to maintain his identity while almost literally carrying the weight of the world.
Snake is a wonderful fable, a trickster tale, a vision of a world set to fire by a vengeful mother earth, and some fine, chiseled poetry, direct and wisdom-filled.
(read review online by clicking here)
Legacy, levity, language, and lineage lean lonesomeness into a slender host, so off Snake goes on his lonely way, polishing grass, amusing children, circling the planet, tail in mouth, ringing hymns, lightin one soul off the burnin end of another, until one illuminated manuscript wets a whistle keen into dreamtime antihero. Snake hisses humans into hard realities, overstepped. Swallows God, smugglin god inside the tubularity, curls into a bugle, blows one note into the emptiness, sings. This is one rambling serpent, lighting darkness with a candle of stars. Lemons brought us a bit of magic from earth’s longest revered beast. Reminding us to dream everything into being, dust it off and return to the bellies of immortals to make our cleansing. Entering Snake is admitting a bit of creature exists in all of us. Snake takes it home.
In this new collection, Gary Lemons—the poet of the creaking fishing boat, the mountains over Kodiak, the “throats of grasses”—speaks, through the narrative consciousness of Snake, in nothing less than the fractured memories and voices of species slowly going extinct. A mournful dirge for what has been lost, a dreaming song for what could yet remain, Snake is an avian, reptilian, piscine—and, yes, mammalian—howl in an era of fracking, tar-sand extraction, and calamitous climate change. These poems are wise, beautiful, and necessary.
In Gary Lemons’ Snake, his amazing new book of verse, we encounter the future, present age of the Draco-Mother-Naked-of-Last, complete with the revenge of Milton’s Satan on the collective purity of planet Earth. Not since the white-face ventriloquism of Berryman’s Dream Songs have I seen such challenges made to the questions of what is voice, what is dream—brilliant book!”