What others are saying about The Echo of Ice Letting Go:
The music and clarity of image in these poems pull us toward something larger within, as well as outside of ourselves. This book is a pleasure to read; there’s a generous, honest, courageous spirit at work here, a poet who knows how to praise this world in all its raggedness, beauty, and grief. This is a transformative, magical collection of poems, something readers will come back to over and over. – Carol Potter, author of Some Slow Bees, winner of the 2014 Field Poetry Prize from Oberlin College Press.
In the face of extremes that can pull us under—illness, addiction, loss—Julie LeMay’s “rough heart” perseveres in this powerful collection by “taking care of the next thing in front” of her. Set mainly in harsh, beautiful Alaska, these tight yet rich and layered poems offer us both the authority of experience and the authority of place. LeMay carries with her the knowledge of a survivor who has learned what she can carry forward and what she must leave behind. She teaches us that sweetness is always bittersweet, and that knowledge is always hard-won. None of us knows what lies ahead, but as we move toward the uncertain and tenuous future, these inspirational poems give us something to hold onto. – Jim Daniels, author of Birth Marks, Eight Mile High, and other books.
Even when Julie LeMay is describing nature and Alaska—a stunned bird, a trapped moth, an ice lake—she is more than a poet of place. This gentle meal of resiliency, community, illness, and transcendence offers “the whole/ land in every mouthful”. These poems that don’t look away from death and other unimaginables (spousal violence, children’s pain, illness and loss), confront the gaze of each unbearable life transition calmly, accommodating, and then accommodating further, moving each word out with a map-maker’s commitment to get the knowable down. LeMay’s poems poise there on the edge of each mystery, admiring: “In my sky there is no /god. But even in the damp cold/I could kneel…” – Jenny Factor, author of Unraveling at the Name.
What does a body know, or better yet, what does the body have the capacity to know? In Julie Hungiville LeMay’s debut book, The Echo of Ice Letting Go, this question of the body hums throughout from the very first poem. From the onset, we are confronted with the delicate nature of the body’s desire, “Maybe/ love is a con/ man’s con, faith/ cobbled in misery.” Is love fleeting or here for only tricks and twisting jabs? From the onset, LeMay prepares us for the encounter of “Life” being “pregnant/ with death” a motif the rest of the poems in her book wrestle with or celebrate… I discovered that these poems are vespers reminiscent of Mary Oliver’s quiet observance— prayers or prayer time best linked to the heart. LeMay’s work grounds us the way a kiss from our children keeps us; or the way a dead friend pleasantly haunts our memory; or the way nature envelopes us “back/ into the immeasurable blue.” Echo of Ice Letting Go is a wonderfully bountiful debut because each poem does what good poems should: appreciate and remind us to simply “Look:/ this day”, our bodies are alive and present. – F. Douglas Brown is the author of Zero to Three (University of Georgia Press 2014), recipient of the 2013 Cave Canem Poetry Prize.
Publication Date February 2017
Available Now. Order a copy:
Fireside Books – For a signed or inscribed copy, request one from this local Alaska indie bookstore