I’m so excited to reveal the first blurb/review for Just Leaves, written by Richard-Yves Sitoski, Owen Sound Poet Laureate 2019-2023.

It’s the first written declaration regarding Just Leaves from someone other than me, and I’m grateful that it is from an esteemed colleague.

He’ll be reading poetry at my book launch in June, but you find him on stage even sooner! He will be performing his one-person show Butterfly Tongue June 8 and 10 at Grey Roots Museum and Archives. Info and tickets at: www.rsitoski.com

“In Just Leaves, Lauren Best comes to grips with words as emotional vehicles in all their mutability, a task more challenging than catching minnows with bare fingers. The process can be frightening, requiring the exposure of vulnerabilities, but Best is categorical: there must be ‘no story left unturned’. She also knows what counts: compassion, caring, curiosity and creativity are at the heart of her practice as a cultural worker, and she brings these to her exploration of inner states as much as to her conclusions on poetry itself. Her reckoning with the trickiness of language leads to some exciting conclusions, such as that ‘letters don’t / make sounds / with dependable angles’. Perhaps the strongest part of the book is the section entitled Kitchen, which explores recipes at once as instructions to be followed and also as complex narratives in themselves, containing intricate (often bewildering) histories. Most significantly, recipes possess emergent properties: recipes are greater than the sum of their instructions, as they physically bring together disparate things—things often sourced from places that are worlds apart in time and space—to create new wholes greater than the sum of their parts. Equally rewarding is fire side (late watch), Best’s extended and wide-ranging meditations during an all-night vigil. This is not a dark night of the soul, but a reckoning with the self, between the self and an unnamed addressee, and between the self and the outside world. The conclusion of this section comes with a categorical demand that could stand for the entire book’s thesis: the only way to read and express the universe is through poetry.”

Richard-Yves Sitoski, Owen Sound Poet Laureate 2019-2023