Dear Leader

By Damian Rogers

Dear Leader
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I'm ill-equipped
   for this. I sit
       by a fake fireplace

that frames a real flame.
   I've been crossed
       by two crows today.

'Multi-vectored, Rogers's poems hum with life and tension, their speaker poised as mother, seer, reporter and daughter. They speak ... Read more


Overview

I'm ill-equipped
   for this. I sit
       by a fake fireplace

that frames a real flame.
   I've been crossed
       by two crows today.

'Multi-vectored, Rogers's poems hum with life and tension, their speaker poised as mother, seer, reporter and daughter. They speak of loss and cold realities (misplaced charms of luck, a tour of an assisted-living facility, coins thrown into Niagara Falls). They also interweave dreams and visions: “O Lion, I am / an old handmaiden; I will not lay the pretty baby in the lap / of the imposter.” Simple but evocative, at once strange and plain, Rogers's poems of address ricochet off the familiar “Dear Reader” or Dickinson's “Dear Master” ... Rogers's poems provide instructions for what to leave, what to take and what to fight. They act as selvage between the vast mother-ocean — the mem of memory — and the fabric we make of the uncertain in-between.’

— Hoa Nguyen, The Boston Review

‘How can we live with the kind of pain that worsens each day? Dear Leader explains through bold endurance, enumerated blessings and the artistic imagination. By pasting stark truths over, or under, images of strange, compelling beauty, Rogers creates a collage, a simulation of the human heart underassault, bleeding but unbroken. Part Orpheus, part pop-heroine who can “paint the daytime black,” all, an original act of aesthetic violence and pure, dauntless, love.’

— Lynn Crosbie

’In Dear Leader, Damian Rogers re-invents the same-old poetic lyric to offers us one-of-a-kind insights on childbirth and party bars, rolling blackouts and old rock standards. Here, what looks at first like familiar language always reveals itself to be a rare mineral. And that’s the magic: this is a poetry that refuses to be staged or to succumb to cliché or mannerism, insisting on celebration and condemnation, caution and cosmic vibrations. “Say you’re a poet,” Rogers advises us, tongue-in-cheek, “Maybe you mean / Hi, I have a lot of feelings.” Striking that balance between one-liners and mourning is no small feat.‘

—Trillium Award Jury Citation

Praise for Paper Radio:

Paper Radio jumped out at me and I can’t say why, but that’s what you want poetry to do, and I never want to say why. Because it’s real and talking to me. Because it’s bloody and horrifying beauty. It’s the Clash and Buckminster Fuller, Auden and Bowie.’

— Bob Holman

Damian Rogers

Originally from the Detroit area, Damian Rogers now lives in Toronto where she works as the poetry editor of House of Anansi Press and as the creative director of Poetry in Voice, a national recitation contest for Canadian high-school students. Her first book of poems, Paper Radio, was nominated for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award.

Awards

  • Speaker's Book Awards 2015, Short-listed

Reviews

In a recent review in The Globe and Mail, reviewer Emma Healey heaps praises on Damian Rogers's second poetry collection, Dear Leader, writing that this follow-up volume is an example of ‘the coolest kind of maturity a poet can achieve: taking what'sunique about their voice and focusing it to create something greater than the sum of its parts.’ The result, Healey says, is ‘a book that's as powerful as it is frightening.’

‘[Damian Rogers] has a way of engaging us with extremely personal anecdotes and details, observations, and fragments that revolve around lived-in experience. Her poetry breaks free the places between hard image and transparent prose.'

Entropy Magazine

Reader Reviews

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