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Paula McLain

Paula McLain

Paula McLain received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996. Since then, she has been a resident at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Ucross Foundation, and a recipient of fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her poems have appeared in The Bellingham Review, Quarterly West, Cream City Review, Third Coast, and Green Mountains Review. She teaches in the MFA Program in Poetry at New England College, and at John Carroll University, and lives in Cleveland.

Also by Paula McLain



Less of Her

Less of HerLess of Her

$12.00 paper | $22.00 cloth | 62 pages
ISBN: 978-0-932826-82-4 (paper)
ISBN: 978-0-932826-81-7 (cloth)
Publication Date: October 1999
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An Inland Seas Poetry Book

Less of Her is informed by a knowledge of irredeemable loss. While its poems record diminishment and imminent disappearances, they strike notes of survival and triumph, mining despair and longing for "small winnings." In this collection of female voices, grief and the sadnesses of desire are catalysts, but love consoles, redeems, "make[s] everything sing." These humane and ageless poems demand our attention.

"In Paula McLain's book Less of Her, the soul steps forward and sings a torch song. The song is both fevered and measured, bearing the double burden of an almost unforgivable past and the possibility of mercy in the future. And the voice is naked, urgent, unflinching, a girl's voice in the mouth of a woman or a woman's voice in the mouth of a girl. This is a first book to listen to again and again."
        —Bruce Smith

"Whether she is 'lost in space' among the 'forbidden planets' or staking her claim at 'ground zero,' Paula McLain writes with an alert sense of place and self. Less of Her is a cosmology of touch and warning––of erotic entanglements and the complex grace and waste wrought from nurturing those relationships. Few poets in their first books are so able to balance irony with glad acceptance. I much admire the crispness of her technique and the adroit result of her aggregate vision."
        —David Baker



He says you’re a blackberry, dropped into his mouth
by a crow, says Sweet, sweet girl to the damp of your neck.
It’s afternoon. Through your squint, foxtail splinters,
blonde as the half-slip we fight over in the catalogue,
the demi-cup bra, satin-strapped and less candid
than this boy’s hands. He’d wear you like skin if you’d let him.

He says locusts told him where to find you,
that your blue dress is plenty deep for two;
and you’re starting to trust the muscle
all this wanting gives you. Your shoulders come back
when a car full of boys rockets by on the two-lane, pulling dust
and a long howl. All the way out to the interstate,
they talk about turning around.

Now your arm is beside you, bent, like a page you’ll return to.
He says Listen, then stops talking. What comes next isn’t news:
his sudden flush and bloom. Then the cell-like splitting
of this day into two, four, eight identical others.

I pass the shape you’ve tamped into the grass.
It looks like an animal has circled before sleeping. I lie down,
willing anything: a ripple, rain. I lick my hand.
There is no tinge of blackberry, no hint of what’s coming.