THE LYME LETTERS
2020 Walt McDonald First Book Award Recipient from Texas Tech University Press (TTUP)
“When can I tell you I am healed?” asks one of the many tremendous poems in C. R. Grimmer’s collection, The Lyme Letters.
At turns funny and erotic, sweeping and hesitant, irreverent and pleading, this book is deadly curious and brilliantly cautious about the various rhetorics that we carry and that carry us toward claiming the body’s arrival on the other side of suffering. Attuned to a history of falsified remedies and fictions of recovery, Grimmer’s poems hold a faithful ear out and in and up for a verve as verified and numinous as the speaker’s own literacy of loss:
“& mercy releases me
here: this watered-down dwelling where
prayer can expand between us
Let’s begin again. I see I AM
good enough now but what are the odds
I choose any heaven other than mine
own set before me?”
As a reader, the ride-along will leave you feeling bathed and breathless, which I understand now maybe all good prayer should.
– Geffrey Davis, Author of Night Angler
I know of fewer invocations more intimate or private than the opening salutation of a letter–and to call the recipient dearest at one's outset, to choose the superlative over the conventional positive, the usual dear that defines our work emails or scrawled notes to neighbors, immediately marks them as beloved. Grimmer, who chooses dearest for each of the poem's salutatory titles, shows us in their ongoing use of the word what it means to choose, over and over, who and what becomes beloved, and the profound importance of that work to building a new world.
– Rachel Mennies, Author of The Naomi Letters
Selected by Series Editor Rachel Mennies as the recipient of the Walt McDonald First Book Award, The Lyme Letters is epistolary verse that spells out a memoir. R, a non-binary femme character, narrates their experience of disease and recovery through recurrent letters to doctors, pets, family members, lovers, and a "Master." R, in letter form and repurposed religious texts, also explores the paradoxical experiences of queer non-reproductivity, chronic illness and disability, and the healing that can be found in the liminal spaces between.
The Lyme Letters was a finalist with presses such as Alice James Books and Kelsey Street Press, a semi-finalist with presses such as Pleiades Press, Switchback Books, and YesYes Books, and was longlisted at Metatron Press. Selected poems from the book can be read in journals such as FENCE Magazine and Prairie Schooner.
“Today I am moss. Yesterday, tides. Is it growth? To spread outward & down? Rooting?
As childhood goes, we were the prophetic----”
The Lyme Letters is a tremendous volume of poems that address and evince a fierce epistolary immersed in a reconciling lyric interpolation. There is a framing to the “dearest,” of addressing life and its emergent needs and figuring opacities thus these poems endure the natural world’s interiority and puncture; the examination of accommodation and ability; the legal language of companion that offers affordances; and all the difficulties and encounters that accompany the spaces and labor of diagnosis, illness, and healing. Grimmer’s world of address is fusing utterance, lyric and amendments, allowing us into language that thinks through the conditions of being in illness and duration. Her prophetic wording into those life-seams of impermeability let us fall into her step, her grace fo deep reckoning.
author of Grief Sequence
....Endlessly inventive, playful and witty, The Lyme Letters refuses the dour face of Lyme, CT
tragedy for a woody comic spirit: “that shameless pink bird, never/ nude & formed to whatever/
in my grasping pink hands/ until i laughed and laughed and laughed/ and couldn’t even swing.
Dr. Tyrone Williams
author of Adventures of Pi
The Lyme Letters thrums with the propulsive imperatives of weighted obligations, nimble insights, and precise observations. Seeded with sonic portents and remarkable lyrical textures, this book is spun through with aptitude and integrity.
author of Instruments of True Measure and Tributaries
An epistolary novel in verse, The Lyme Letters is a correspondence between bodies both inhabited and desired, as full and vital as the spaces where river water breaks against stones, churning with life. There is an effervescence to this poetry that replenishes the imagination and revitalizes language in extraordinary ways. 'I said all this while waves coiled back,' writes C. R. Grimmer, and 'sing my song for the reeds.'
D. A. Powell
author of Chronic
An extraordinary collection of poems dedicated to the hard work of healing, and the impact of being surrounded by a caring community. In the end, help from others is to help ourselves for "a story about where to put / my brain & feel my body speak into it." The poet C. R. Grimmer fills our every thought after reading, adjusting us to a larger lens on the world.
author of The Book of Frank
In the depths of this plague year, CR Grimmer reminds us that plagues and prohibitions will always be with us, as will exuberance, as will animal companionship. The product of astonishingly deep reading, listening, and thinking, The Lyme Letters charts an unruly garden of queer jouissance, self-discovery, and filigrees of connection all the more worth cherishing for their fragility. Musically lush and dialectically precise, this is a book that, like its speaker, wants to “be & be & be & be & be & be & be”; its thirst after existence becomes the most generous, and generative, sustenance, a blessing that encompasses the tick.