What Readers & Reviewers Have to Say About Story & Bone
Deborah Leipziger’s stunning second poetry collection, Story & Bone (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2022), delves into matters at the core of our very being. It explores identity, heritage, and belonging through careful attention to familial narratives and close observation of nature, the body, and the complexities of loss. The collection also probes the significance of legacy, both the legacy the poet inherits as well as the one she forges for future generations.
Poet Deborah Leipziger … will write poems filled with colors (“The night washes amber over cities”), filled with flowers whose very names are poems (bougainvillea, jasmine, frangipani), poems that honor the women she is descended from (even if the inheritance she writes about in “Inheritance” is not clearly a gift), poems that subtextually are love poems to her daughters, including a set of twins, and poems that honor other poets, poets she did not meet and one poet, dying of cancer, whom she tended (“Radiation on Valentine’s Day”). And those are among the themes of her poems, not categories, because many of her poems are too large for one theme alone.
If abundance and loss saliently mark human existence, they form important themes of this collection. Deborah Leipziger tips the scale beautifully toward abundance, with Story & Bone revealing and reveling in the sweetness of familial ties, of traditions, of love, of connection, in image-rich, painterly and touching poems. “I am lush and wild in my joy,” sings Leipziger—and we, her readers, are beneficiaries of the richness and flowerings of her verse.Danielle Legros Georges, Former Boston Poet Laureate
Deborah Leipziger’s Story & Bone dives deep into language in search of identity, memory, intimacy, and connection. But whatever they seek, these poems never forget that our yearnings are contained and enriched by our blunt bodies, with our hands stained by garden dirt, birth blood, and baking flour. They are sensual telegrams to the soul.– Adam Sol, Author, The Way a Poem Moves
The poems in Deborah Leipziger’s Story & Bone are centered around connection, the forging of it, the strength of it and the loss of it. She writes of the connections between mother and daughter and between the daughter and her own three daughters. She writes of the broken and whole sensual and emotional connections between lovers and partners. She explores her connection with nature, with Judaism, with her body, her past, her intentions. This leads to strong, quirky, and intelligent poems.Marge Piercy, Author, Novelist, Poet, Activist, and Feminist icon
In Deborah Leipziger’s new book of poetry, I have the distinct impression of the poet as an earth mother. Her poems are fecund, fertile; her body is easily integrated into the flora and the fauna. She seems to walk like Whitman, taking in the world, embracing everything, wearing them like talismans draping on her flowing dress.Doug Holder, Co-President of the New England Poetry Club
There is a powerful ability in Story & Bone to peel back a life lived. Born under a dictatorship, Leipziger did not have to hide gems in her hem like her ancestors did. In this collection, she states, “When I was born, I was blue.” When her daughters were born, “The blue sky becomes a room.” Borders are crossed regularly in her poems as she petitions the reader to listen with “this small ear of the ocean.” She reveals, we all must ride on the current and hear the symphony that life gives us. This book, “punctures the silence.”Gloria Mindock, Editor of Červená Barva Press, Author of Ash
In Story & Bone the poet tells us there’s a current in existence that flows “from broken to whole.” She also tells us it is like a “spool never quite wound again,” and in the end is fundamentally “untamed.” That current flows throughout the poetry in this book. It is not exactly hidden, but it often needs to be revealed or rediscovered. In these poems it often passes through the heart, helping the poet endure sorrows and inevitable losses. It can also flow between people, from lover to beloved, from child to parent, and in reverse. Yes, things do fall apart, but with sharp and emotionally resonant imagery Deborah Leipziger’s poetry helps us sense the movement from broken to whole in our own lives.Fred Marchant, author of Said Not Said (Graywolf Press)
Story & Bone is deeply connected to the flora and fauna of the poet’s native Brazil, her adopted New England, and many geographies in between. Its poems shed light on the experience of joy in the blazing colors of the rainforest as well as the unmistakable palette of the northern spring. And the poems explore collective and personal histories: we learn family accounts of leaving one world for another, crossing borders as refugees. We see the perilous moment of the poet’s own birth, the umbilical cord around her neck, and the perilous birth of her twin daughters who, in later poems, are thriving, holding “the light, the dark of my countries.” The collection asks what home is and provides an answer: home is what we weave through the music and pattern of language and through the life we live with others, season by season, year by year.Jennifer Barber, Author of The Sliding Boat Our Bodies Make
The most wonderful thing about Deborah Leipziger’s poetry is that it leaves one feeling happy to be alive. For the life described in Leipziger’s work is always deeply connected to the beauty and mystery of the world outside of herself, to its bounty: flowers, trees, sex, love, oceans, skies, people, and food. She makes it all come alive so vividly that we experience it all with her—and are deeply grateful that she brought us along.Lawrence Kessenich, Author, Poet, Playwright, Winner of the Strokestown International Poetry Prize in Ireland
The very first poem of Deborah Leipziger’s gorgeous new collection recalls “my mother told me no one/would ever love me/like she did. Now I know/ she was right and wrong.” Leipziger is the poet of paradox, both its sharp edges and its soft wonder: “I channel the coincidental/the purely purposeful.” Her poems are equally “untamed/like the undiscovered species creeping through the mangrove/on silent paws of night” and “this school girl immersing in jonquils./ No, those are my daughters amidst the blooms.” She will “sink stanzas into your marrow/and sonnets into the lesions,” placing “tercets inside the wounds” Even the order of the poems understands that “Trees know not to crowd one another./ Nature thrives in intervals,/in the intercession.” With each poem read, I said to myself, “Surely, it can get no better than this?” Then I turned the page: I was right and wrong.Wayne-Daniel Berard, author of Art of Enlightenment and founding co-editor, Soul Lit
Deborah Leipziger’s poems light fires! Her poetry is deeply personal, full of sensual love and of life. She cares deeply and because of her caring, we care. Story & Bone contains a deep affection for people, flowers, plants and defenders of nature. In a world that is often cruel, she brings excitement, joy and happiness. Leipziger is a poet to admire and enjoy.Zvi A. Sesling, Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review