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At a time in American poetry when so many writers are concerned with the poetics of irony and cool; of associative cleverness that keeps the reader emotionally at arm's length, and the politics of po-biz, how refreshing it is to read Sober Cooking. Lynn McGee writes from the central humanity that the lyric has always longed to embrace. These poems remind us of the art's full potential: its ability to elicit empathy, to engage our feelings, to make us flinch, to help us rejoice.
Gerry LaFemina, author of Little Heretic, Notes for the Novice Ventriloquist,
Steampunk and Vanishing Horizon
This is it, announces one of the titles from deep inside Lynn McGee’s new collection of poetry. This is it, the arrival of a new heart to quicken the body of a lover, “a jigsaw in the surgeon’s hand flicks its razor tongue”; this is it, “the world’s sea level rising” in Sober Laundry; this is “that sweet moment before impact, don’t waste it.” And so it is, climactic moments attending ordinary events—cooking, washing, trying to sleep—as if to say, no event is ordinary, that in our awareness is the memory of someone we once loved, the fact of someone presently fighting to live, the cat, at a loud noise, tensing its body (“The In-Between”). McGee takes us everywhere she goes, because the woman putting artificial turf on her balcony, the one wearing headphones and eating carrots, is the same one who’s in love, whose lover at any moment could die. This poet looks life in the eye, welcomes it: the smell of burning rubber on Franklin, even those who would keep her from her lover’s bedside. This is it. This life. With her unique gift she shows, there is no other.
Mervyn Taylor, author of The Waving Gallery and No Back Door
Heartbreak lives in the pages of Sober Cooking by Lynn McGee. Yet so does joy as the poet keenly observes and experiences life in the small details that render love—for lovers and place and family. These poems of loss and mortality are alive in this poet’s command of language and her art, from image to tone to pace, and, finally, in their surprise. They are genuine from their first lines to their resonate last lines. Each poem makes us feel the poet’s pain, irony, and affections as well as our own.
Elizabeth Haukaas, author of Leap
Lynn McGee has won two chapbook contests: Bonanza was published by Slapering Hol Press of the Husdon Valley Writers Center in 1997 and Heirloom Bulldog was published by Bright Hill Press in 2015. Sober Cooking, from Spuyten Duyvil Press, is her first full-length collection. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including The American Poetry Review, Southern Poetry Review, Ontario Review, Hawai’i Review, Storyscape, 2 Bridges Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Same, Sun Magazine, Phoebe, Laurel Review and The New Guard; one poem a finalist and one a semi-finalist in the Knightville contest judged by Donald Hall. She earned an MFA in Poetry at Columbia University, was awarded a MacDowell fellowship and taught freshman writing at private and public universities as well as having led poetry workshops in public schools. She is a recipient of the NYC Literacy Assistance Center’s Recognition Award for her work in adult literacy, and received the Heart of the Center Award from the LGBT Community Center in New York City for developing, as a volunteer, their first GED class. Today she is a staff writer at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York and co-curates, with Gerry LaFemina, the Lunar Walk Poetry Series in Brooklyn, New York.