Becoming by Laura LeHew
Publisher (Another New Calligraphy).
Excessive drinking over a period of years may lead to a condition known as Alcohol Dementia, which can cause problems with memory, learning and other cognitive skills.
Becoming is my non-linear discourse on the theme of alcoholism and dementia. It is confessional. My family may be new to you or it may be all too familiar. It will never be dull.
Another New Calligraphy publishes limited-edition books which they lovingly design and handmake in their Chicago home.
They worked in collaboration with me to make the manuscript visually recognizable, they hope to make it stand out in the great American media overload.
They believe creating art in mass quantities lessens its value and cheapens its spirit.
When I sent them my manuscript they accepted it in 1 week.
The last poem of this collection asserts that “…the past is the answer not/ worth pursuing.” But the startling and moving poems that precede it prove otherwise. In Becoming, Laura LeHew has pursued the past, delving into a family history replete with the catastrophic effects of alcoholism. Using innovative forms and vivid imagery, LeHew’s work poignantly evokes the devastation created by an alcoholic sister, mother, and father. These poems tell a powerful story—one both provocative and wrenching.
Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita
Rather than portraying family as the mythological unicorn we wish it to be, Becoming is the poetic equivalent of an antithetical Brady Bunch. Full of fracture, dementia, multi-generational substance abuse, and violence, Laura LeHew’s poems wrench family damage from shadows and whispers directly onto center stage. A poem in the voice of sister “Karen,” relates: “Once he fuckin’ broke the door down/pulled the phone off the wall/while I was callin’ the cops./Remember?//Like dad did that one time when he was so pissed at you?” Heartbreak, rather than sentimentality, is woven into the tightly crafted fabric of the verse, as well as the organization of the collection, with found journal-entry poems, non-sequential ordering, and this solemn profound couplet from penultimate poem “Mother’s Day”: “& the past is the answer not/worth pursuing.” As dark as the reality ofBecoming is, the journey is redeemed by unflinching examination, moments of unwavering generosity, and the faithful testimony of survival.
—Lana Hechtman Ayers, author of The Dead Boy Sings in Heaven
Through finely crafted formal innovations and an unflinching focus on the realities of alcoholism, dementia, and the precarious pathways of family histories, Laura LeHew reminds us that poetry is one of the surest ways to fully inhabit our lives while grappling with realities that unsettle the mind and soul.
—CE Rosenow, author of Pacific and Spectral Forms
Reviews: Please read a review of Becoming on Whisper Thunder by Dr. Dawn Karima.