August 22, 2005
Whitworth Professor Laurie Lamon's Poetry Collection
The poems in Whitworth Associate Professor of English Laurie Lamon's debut collection The Fork Without Hunger (CavanKerry Press) are described by poet Donald Hall in the book's foreword as being "rare in their perfection of epithet, their delicacy of design...Page after page, line after line, Lamon's language retains its purity, its chastity, its precision." This praise from one of America's most revered poets for Lamon's first published book is hard-won: her collection is the culmination of nearly a decade of work - writing, revising and honing each poem.
Many of the poems in the collection have debuted previously: some have been printed in journals and have appeared on the Poetry Daily website. Others have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, including "Pain Thinks of the Beautiful Table," which received the prize in 2001 and was published in the Pushcart Prize 2002 anthology. Lamon's "Praise" appeared in The Atlantic Monthly and was then selected by former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins for the anthology 180 More Extraordinary Poems for Every Day (Random House, 2005).
Lamon, a Whitworth alumna, says that the poems in The Fork Without Hunger address the subjects of nature, pain and loss, separation and survival, as well as the journeys and the motions of memory and time that can bring people into the presence of love, and the mystery of grace. The "Pain Poems" included in the collection are from an ongoing cycle of poems whose subjects include history, science, religion, suffering and redemption.
"The Fork Without Hunger reflects my belief that the language of poetry points us toward the world that is often overlooked: the world where points of vital connection tremble and come into being," Lamon says. "I hope that the poems and the book's structure reflect my gratitude for the abiding luminous forms of nature and spirit, and my belief as well that poetry places the self in the world; it requires of us moral vision and commitment. It asks us to be better than we are."
David Daniel, poetry editor of the journal Ploughshares, said of the collection: "With rare precision and intelligence - and, rarer still, with genuine imagination - Laurie Lamon navigates the subtly terrifying, elegiac waters of the poems in The Fork Without Hunger. In this very impressive debut, Lamon's poems, with their quirky grace, seem near some mysterious and beautiful eruption...One watches with great anticipation and pleasure."
The overall arc of the poems is as important as any single poem in conveying the collection's vision and subjects, Lamon says. The collection begins and ends with the Pain Poems, as a prologue and epilogue.
"The final poem in the collection, 'Pain Thinks of the Beautiful Table,' conveys images that poems in the rest of the book explore: the surface of the table suggests images of both ordinary material substance and light, both presence and absence, the rituals of daily life, nourishment, hunger, community or estrangement, as well as communion," Lamon says.
The late Peter Davison, poetry editor of The Atlantic Monthly for 30 years and a central figure in American poetry from the 1950s until his recent death, described Lamon's collection as an enormously mature and expressive book.
"Life teaches us that regret is born along with love, that disappointment is hope's twin, that death starts with birth, and pain with pleasure," Davison said. "In The Fork Without Hunger Laurie Lamon makes a music that persuades not only my mind but my senses to accept this duality from both sides at once, but still to believe that 'the world could end with light.'"
The Fork Without Hunger is available for purchase at Small Press Distribution, www.spdbooks.org or 800-869-7553 ($14; ISBN: 0-9723045-5-X). It will also be available for purchase at the Whitworth bookstore (509-777-4524), and at major bookstores in Spokane and online, including www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.
Lamon's poems have appeared in journals and magazines including The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Ploughshares, The Colorado Review, Arts & Letters Journal of Contemporary Culture, Feminist Studies, Primavera, Poetry Northwest, and Northwest Review.
In addition to the Pushcart Prize in 2001, Lamon received a Graves Award in the Humanities in 2002, which provided her with a paid release from teaching and allowed her to conduct research for Poetry of Witness, a Whitworth class she teaches that explores 20th-century political poetry, poetry of extremity and survival, doubt and faith.
Lamon also teaches courses including creative writing, poetry workshop, contemporary American poetry and women writers; she is currently developing seminars in American women poets, and poets of the Holocaust and post-WWII Eastern Europe.
Lamon earned her bachelor's degree from Whitworth College, her master's degree from the University of Montana, and her doctorate from the University of Utah.
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,400 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.
Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or firstname.lastname@example.org.