THE BOOK: Two Thirds Water
PUBLISHED IN: 2018
THE AUTHOR: Rodger LeGrand.
THE PUBLISHER: Flutter Press.
SUMMARY: Two Thirds Water extends naturally from LeGrand’s previous collection, Seeds. Without water, a seed can’t grow. Transitions are often difficult. The growing in this collection is revealed through inverse relationships. These poems imagine the “Sea Without Water”, setting aside unfulfilled dreams in “Sleepwalking”, and the negation of self in “Spilled Moon”. Seeds is a collection about embarking upon transitions. This collection, Two Thirds Water, is about how we try to find our way while in transition.
THE BACK STORY: “Two Thirds Water was written to link with Seeds. I’m working toward building this sequence out into a triptych. It is difficult to say how long it took to write these poems. They were started last year when I was still living in Philadelphia before moving to Boston. I think about chapbooks as being quick glimpses of insight. Layering a sequence of chapbooks, from Seeds to Two Thirds Water, and the on to the third book in the sequence, is a lot of fun. It gives me room to play around with the chapbook genre. I hope that’s what you’ll find in these two collections. I want them to work as a models of the genre while connecting naturally to form a larger perspective on the themes in both collections.”
WHY THIS TITLE?: The title, Two Thirds Water, establishes a series of parallels—the planet and body are two thirds water, and water in various phases appears in two thirds of this collection.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? People might be interested in Two Thirds Water if they are interested in poetry that pays attention to itself. I think about poems as being made things.
REVIEW COMMENTS: “Poetry fans will sink happily into this exquisite new collection by Rodger LeGrand, where sleepwalking lovers wake alone, where desolate parrots pluck out their feathers, and where water continues to poison a community. But here too, snowflakes and memories in the lovely quiet hours have their own distinct shape, basic math demonstrates how—despite our presumed busy-ness—the universe goes on with or without us, and “moonlight spills through the blinds like milk.” Each word is deliciously chosen; each poem, a glorious triumph.”
~Robin Stratton, Editor-in-Chief, Boston Literary Magazine
“Many of the 16 poems in Rodger LeGrand’s latest collection, Two Thirds Water, are like sweet liquid disguising bitter medicine—until the aftertaste kicks in. As he picks his way along the narrow and treacherous boundary separating acceptance from surrender, LeGrand adds rich imagery and clever metaphor to that currently popular disclaimer, “It is what it is.” Put another way, his work grafts the Oriental philosophy that informs his world view onto the rock-bed American sensibility of his origins. For all its beauty, however, the world that LeGrand views is often unkind. In “Baby Elephant,” he begins with the practice of securing a chain around a baby elephant’s leg, there to remain even as the flesh grows around it. Like that elephant, he writes, human beings often grow up with ‘the sense of being trapped inside, chained to memories. That is how we live.’ Some of his one-liners go right to the bone. ‘One person always loves the other more. Love is not equal.’ ‘Age makes its move every day, in a race we’ve been losing from go.’ And, in ‘DIY’, he describes a man carving his own tombstone: ‘Hard work, but some things are better done yourself.’”
~Darrell Laurant, The Kudzu Kid, Inspiration Street, Snowflakes in a Blizzard
AUTHOR PROFILE: I teach writing at MIT, and I have started giving readings in the Boston area. When I’m not teaching or reading poetry I’m studying Moy Yat Ving Tsun Kung Fu. I started teaching Ving Tsun Kung Fu in Massachusetts this year. If anyone is interested in chatting about Kung Fu philosophy and the arts, please send me an email.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: There is another layer to these chapbooks which is not clearly stated in any of the poems at this point. I study and teach Ving Tsun (pronounced Wing Chun) Kung Fu. The forms—Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu, and Biu Jee—are physical, and in this context they also act as metaphorical guides for how I am thinking about layering this triptych. I used my interpretation of this sequence of open-hand forms as a way of planning for this trilogy of chapbooks. To be clear, these are not Kung Fu poems or poems about Kung Fu philosophy. Rather, in terms of modeling out the sequence of poems, I’m more focused on the structural progression of the forms and what they teach us than I am focused on writing about the content of the forms or interpretations of Kung Fu philosophy, at least so far.
The follow up to Two Thirds Water that will mirror Biu Jee, a recovery form that trains the hands to return to centerline whenever you find yourself in an unfavorable position. In the Moy Yat Ving Tsun Kung Fu system, we refer to Biu Jee as the standard compass so that our hands always return back to center, the way a compass always points north. Grandmaster Moy Yat was a painter and calligrapher, and I hope he would be happy to hear that I’m exploring ways to bring these two arts—one of the body and movement, the other of the body and language—together.
Takes the chisel
and mallet, kneels
in his overalls,
to get the right line.
His future, an oval
slab of granite.
but some things
are better done yourself.
In Line Waiting for Salvation
Chest to back for eternity.
An endless line on an endless
subway platform waiting for
Godot or to go next?
or so. Lines. Our straight line
across a curved world,
into a vacuum state of energy
spiked through the largest atom,
the universe, or the smallest atom? Lines.
A line of geese clunking across the morning.
Curved red line where her favorite dress
meets her thigh. Vein line beneath
wax paper skin. 29 Powder blue horizons
falling down the page. A line of thought, line
of sight. One line breaks
off, blends into white space
and dangles for a breath.
Is that the answer? Continue putting
everything in line? One line,
then the next. Highway
lines painted over and painted again.
Soup kitchen lines, ladled up and marching
into battle. A line of thread dangling
from a shirt sleeve. The line from Freeport, IL
to Jupiter’s eternal tornado.
A line of poetry, a line of cold mud
shaken off a boot. Silence
between two people
after a lifetime together,
the way a fault line opens
and fills with rain.
Flint fragments, unwanted stones
kicked to the curb by half-flat,
fat speeding tires. What does history look like
from inside a clogged pipe? What would
the American present look like
if sifted through purifying carbon filters?
The Stone Age in this age, the Flint, Michigan age.
Stone tools, cutting tools, edged blades
for removing flesh from a carcass. Smacked
against steel, spark, excite, to ignite
the old factories long smothered with vines,
re-claimed by trees. To breathe
sooty exhaust again, to hear the shift-ending
whistle again. Time doesn’t roll backward,
sediment doesn’t roll uphill.
The media might have stopped
covering it, but if I were you,
I still wouldn’t drink that water.
Lights out and moonlight spills
through the blinds like milk,
a ladder of white-blue light
across the hardwood floor.
Where might it lead
if I were to climb
past the windowsill?
A soft-sand bed on at the edge
of the Sea of Tranquility?
To the moon’s dark side?
To tomorrow and the morning sun
that will rise, as it does, the same way
every morning? Or to a few years ago
when we were happy and excited
just to know the other existed?
One person always loves the other more.
Love is never equal. You’re in the next room
talking to someone on the phone.
I hear you say my name so softly
that it feels like I don’t actually exist.
Linekin Bay, Maine
Trees along the shoreline,
on the water’s surface.
No wind, no people.
Greeted by a lone porpoise
that hardly makes a ripple
as its dorsal fin feels for sunlight.
Boaters have left for the season.
Lobster traps have been slugged
from the water. The season changes
as it always does, the way the sun rises
as it always does. A few half-sleeping
cormorants slap their wings
against the water’s surface,
a sounding drum keeping time.
Winter will be here soon.
WHERE TO BUY IT: Flutter Press.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: http://www.rodgerlegrand.com