Landlocked: Etymology of Whale-Fish and Grace
On L2L: September 15, 2017 (click to listen to the episode)
About the Book
What is the power of poetry? Where does poetry fit in our everyday lives? It must be important, since the United States has a poet laureate (though how many people know who the current one is?). Like the poet laureate whose role is “to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry” (Library of Congress, n.d., ¶1), Danèlle Lejeune’s début collection of poetry offers readers modern and moving topics within different forms of poetry. Part memoir, it is divided into three sections: “Becoming a Skinwalker Is a Curse,” “Every Breaking Wave,” and “Dead Reckoning.” Part I is, in many ways, hopeful: idyllic but realistic. Part II allows readers to experience life’s vicissitudes and the bobbing on waves that often come as we grow and mature. Part III explores the concept of being lost—and, while lost, perhaps also finding ourselves through life’s journey. Many of the poems touch upon the author’s background as a farmer, though they are not rustically “sticky sweet.” Rather, nature is depicted as its own character, not something to contend with or push against, but with which we should coexist and try to understand, even empathize. Other poems incorporate the art of cooking and the importance of nourishment; mythology, spirituality, and religion; and literature, feminism, and humanism. Landlocked should be read like a book, cover to cover, as the poems build and tell an overarching narrative. But each piece, each part, is also complete in itself. What’s wonderful about poetry is that collections like these are often kept on one’s bookshelf, available every day, or once a year, or some other interval in between, to open and discover a piece that speaks to life in that moment. And when you’re feeling Landlocked, whether as “trapped” or in a more positive sense, Danèlle Lejeune has a poem, and a memory, to share.
About the Author
Danèlle Lejeune was born in the Rocky Mountains to a hippie mother and a skydiving, Cajun father. Her family hopped around the Midwest and finally landed in Iowa (much too cold for her Southern-tinged Cajun blood). After college, she dedicated herself to motherhood; beekeeping; raising pigs, sheep, and cows; and practicing the art of cooking. In 2014, she decided to attend the Ossabaw Island Writers’ Retreat to research and write about pigs. Instead, she rediscovered her childhood love of poetry, quit the Iowa farm, bought an 1875 pre-Victorian home in Georgia, and took up writing poetry as her life. She believes in God, Pluto’s planetary status, and is curious about Earth’s second moon. Lejeune’s art photography has appeared online at Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment and in the Portland Review. Her writing has been published in Fifth Wednesday Review, Red Paint Hill, Red River Review, Nottingham Review, Whale Road Review, MothersAlwaysWrite, Glass Poetry Journal, and Rose Red Review.