Lance Larsen is the author of three collections of poetry: Backyard Alchemy; (2009), In All Their Animal Brilliance; and Erasable Walls (1998). His poems have appeared in Paris Review, Shenandoah, Hudson Review, Kenyon Review and elsewhereIn 2007 he received the National Endowment for the Arts' highly prestigious Literature Fellowship in Poetry. He teaches in the English Department at Brigham Young University.
Also by Lance Larsen
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ISBN: 978-0-932826-60-2 (paper)
ISBN: 978-0-932826-59-6 (cloth)
66 Pages | Foreword by Richard Howard
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Erasable Walls is a series of elegant personal meditations on the always evolving self. These beautifully crafted poems show a degree of mastery that's rare in a first book. Though quiet and subtle, Larsen's voice is also nervy and truth-telling, with considerable cumulative power.
From the Foreward to Erasable Walls:
"He leads us in rather gently. The earlier poems appear to concern, indeed to construct, what we so often call, with a grimace of wrong recognition, family values. How disingenuously the poet's persona muses upon the responsibilities of fatherhood, of filial piety, of those initiations into man's estate which involve certain severances, certain deliberate repudiations."
February 1922: My Father's Conception
Leona, Ershel—names chalked on someone’s driveway,
names mapping the erasable walls of the heart.
Paired in loopy cursive, they were supposed to fade,
like memory, like the light from the open doorway
of the Elks’ lodge after a Saturday night dance,
couples fanning out across the rutted road.
Certainly, no one was thinking of weddings.
Not Leona, not Ershel. Not the town drunk
who saluted all young lovers, with sincerity
and a bottle from the upriver bridge. Not
the German baker working late, who would one day
offer Ershel a life of ovens and floury hands.
Least of all their Mormon bishop, aged walrus,
snoring now beside his flanneled, pliant wife.
And if it was that night, where did they end up—
Leona’s basement, a barn loft? Or maybe
a bunkhouse closed for the winter, the wind
and the rustling of dusty blankets
shuttering them in, as my grandfather,
sad country boxer, clenched his eyes against
this new pleasure, fevered colors swimming
through his head, while my grandmother
whispered to the wall, if I hurry, if I hurry,
if I hurry and wash up with vinegar.