Ledi (2018)


Ledi (Book*hug, October 2018)

“Ledi haunts across epochs. It is a raw embrace with the dead. Grappling observer, exquisite witness, and tender participant in excavation, dissection, and summoning, Trainor latches us to the glorious body’s artifact and to what persists and to what is subsumed and substantiated after our ritual ‘dig’: a threnody of ghostly lingerings, ancestral earth and grasses, a Griffin tattoo, decaying traces, and a desert abloom. Ledi is unforgettable.” —Sandra Ridley, author of the Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted collection Silvija

Reviews and Interviews:

The archaeological excavation of a 2000-year-old woman (possibly a storyteller or shaman) in Siberia named Ledi, and an urgent excavation of the death of a former lover by suicide, are the focus of this fascinating and enigmatic book.
     I love the way this collection begins with an untitled evocation foregrounding the five sections, charting the ebb and flow of blue dawn light, felt as water, filling the narrator’s body, “I am clear in this tidal light.” But then, the next (and final) stanza is wonderfully ambiguous, beginning with “And then it goes, leaving ligaments and thews strewn/ like dried grasses.“ We sense how transient this clarity may be, physically and emotionally. We can guess that the narrator is simultaneously inhabiting the body of Ledi and her own. Throughout the five sections of this book (I. Wrenched from the cold earth; II. Integument; III. Inventory; IV. Ghost: V. Blue across this land that looks like sea), Trainor uses spare lyrics and the format of a notebook or diary as she skilfully interweaves the dead, burial and excavation details, contrasting environments of the Siberian steppes and Vancouver, and the narrator’s life before, during and after her former lover’s suicide.” –Jan Conn, When “The Spring Light is Like Glass”: Kim Trainor’s Ledi. Arc Poetry Magazine online, 8 January 2020

“This is what grief feels like, isn’t it? The repetition, the daily visits with damage, the uselessness of the task. Trainor recreates the endless small efforts to make sense of something ineffable and unavoidable in its mystery. In the end, it is only the slow work of the wild grasses and flowers that persists where any body could, did, or might have lain.” —Elee Kraljii Gardiner, “Seeking Peace: An Omnibus Review of Poetry by Wanda John-Kehewin, Arielle Twist, and Kim Trainor.” Prism international30 July 2019.

“The great strength of Trainor’s work in both Karyotype and Ledi, but perhaps most richly exemplified in the latter, lies in her ability to lay the bones of the past alongside the losses and griefs of the present [,,,] At its core, Ledi is a quietly wise and richly articulate book about the power of loss, grief, ceremony, and love that make us human.”    —Jenna Butler, “Archaeology of a Horsewoman,” The Ormsby Review, 22 July 2019.

“Trainor’s poetry offers the reader a moving, powerful meditation on mourning as a burial of the dead and “preparing for life after death.” The flowers and grasses found at a burial site of the Iron Age Pasyryk woman known as Ledi, or “the Lady,” inspire memories of the narrator’s dead lover, a man with whom she travelled the American desert and who named and identified all the wildflowers that they found on their way. Through her poems, Trainor weaves these two lives and deaths through the flora and fauna associated with burial practice, so that the past is folded into the present in a quietly stunning memorialization of loss, known and unknown.” —Jury for the 2019 Raymond Souster Award

“The poet knows so much about Ledi’s body, about her burial, about the grave goods accompanying her into her coffin and yet next to nothing about her former lover’s grave site. Thus she has to imagine one. While the Ledi’s excavators work backwards: from the unearthed body and the grave site to create a speculative identity of Ledi, the poet has to work in the opposite way with her dead lover: from her incomplete memories of him, which are frustratingly unaccompanied by any artifacts (“I have no letter written in your hand. No photograph”), in order to give him a proper burial.  (“I place you here– in the Mojave. In this sere blue.”) What Ledi reminds us is that the dead shadow us in our lives and ultimately how little we know about our dead– even those with whom we were intimate.”
REVIEWING THE SHORTLIST: Ledi | By Kim Trainor. Review by Jennifer Zilm, League of Canadian Poets. May 2019

Excerpt from Ledi, League of Canadian Poets, Poetry Pause, 1 June 2019

Kim Trainor on Capturing Both a Tattooed Iron Age Woman & Modern Day Trauma in Her Book Length Poem: The Lucky Seven Interview at Open Book. 5 November 2018.

Radio Interview on COOP Radio, Vancouver. First aired 18 October 2018.

The Excavation of Memory: In Conversation with Kim Trainor. Book*hug blog interview with Mary Ann Mathias, 10 October 2018.

Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2018 Poetry Preview. 49th Shelf.


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