Chokecherry by Lyd Havens (2021)
In Chokecherry, Lyd Havens gathers their griefs: the sudden death of their uncle when they were a child, losing both of their grandparents in the span of a year, estrangement from a parent, and unrequited love, among others. What follows is a bouquet of visceral, unflinching poems that simultaneously lament and rejoice. Through memory and all its unreliability, the landscapes of their genealogy, and allusions to grief in history and art, Havens explores the toll mental illness and addiction have taken on their family, while still giving thanks for the love that has helped them not only survive, but live. Chokecherry is equal parts mourning and celebration, loss and growth, rage and tenderness.
“Chokecherry is an impeccable collection of poetry. Lyd's writing is a vulnerable baring of the soul, and this work in particular is an urgent reckoning with family, history, and the body. At once deeply personal, and also universal, this collection deserves your attention right this second.”
-Mary Lambert, author of Shame is an Ocean I Swim Across
“In Lyd Havens's stunning new chapbook, they write, The truth becomes sharper every time it's said aloud. And so to do Haven's poems, which peel open like a fist. This is the work of tireless questioning of family and inheritance. Lines that dance with their teeth bared. These are poems of longing and nostalgia. Poems of fear and desire. Poems that find their way to you by pushing deeper into themselves, asking what do we do with memory and its flimsy weight.”
-Dave Harris, author of Patricide
“In Chokecherry, what you see is the smoke and mirrors of dazzling figurative language and what you get is a vehicle hurtling towards healing. The turns of phrase become mechanisms for turning the past on its head, and reckoning with what moving forward can look like.”
-Sara Mae, author of Priestess of Tankinis