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Snake IV: Original Grace

Red Hen Press Presales and Broadsides

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Snake IV: Original Grace
Original Grace is the last book in the Snake Quartet. In it, the journey from destruction leads through the darkened rooms of an enormous house where occasionally outside the windows creatures past, present, and future appear—asking for help or solace or trying to break the glass to get in. But the house is made of poetry and is unassailable unlike those who live in it.

By this time, Snake has undergone the transformations from sole survivor into the mythic voice of the collective with all their throats open and in full song. She has undergone the movement from original gender into all genders. The rough linguistic artifacts left from the first book—the dialects and fogginess she experienced living both in and out of a dream—slowly become more coherent as she learns to filter the collective voices back into her personal speech. Original Grace is not just the end of what was but the beginning of what comes next. The sun has gone down. The long wait for a new sunrise is nearly over.


"In Original Grace, the amazing conclusion to the Snake Quartet, Gary Lemons has found a deep syntactical pulse in the language that mixes witnessing with hallucination—arching across this series of books, I have to observe that the imagination working here is not only compassionate but weeps for us all. And yet the passage through imagination lifts us in just the way Blake intended when he took a large rake to the King's messenger. I love these insurrections of mind. Taken as one book or as a whole the Snake Quartet is a relevant and signal accomplishment.  Praise no blame!"
—Norman Dubie, author of Quotations of Bone


Original Grace is the fourth book in the Snake Quartet and the eighth collection of poetry published by Gary Lemons. Gary worked many jobs, mostly involving hard labor outdoors, to underwrite his life as a poet, but the one dearest to his heart is planting over five hundred thousand trees in the logged-off high elevation forests of the Pacific Northwest. He attended the Undergraduate Poetry Workshop at the University of Iowa, where he studied with John Berryman, Donald Justice, Marvin Bell, and Norman Dubie. He now teaches yoga at Tenderpaws Yoga Studio owned jointly with his wife, Nöle Giulini.

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