Red Signature

Former assistant state attorney general and then referee for the Supreme Court of Oklahoma, Leader now lectures in literature as well as law at Emory University. Her first book of poetry makes it clear that she is a highly intelligent poet with a fine ear and innovative intent. Leader is at her best when writing in a more-or-less traditional style, when the innovations of repetition and language-play occur within the confines of a traditional poetic structure. She is less successful with several visual poems (some with letters and words forming typographical borders for the poems themselves) and poems that attempt to emulate musical structures such as fugues or canons. Leader writes frequently of women struggling with body image, of unrequited love, jealousy, and family. Two of the strongest poems are about her children: “My Son Ted” (“His fingernails, and toenails, soft from the bath”) and “Her Door,” about her daughter (“I’ve bought her several thousand things to wear/ And now this boy buys her silver rings./ He goes inside her room and shuts the door”). A promising first collection with some gems and some puzzling works that nevertheless show a fierce determination to break into new poetic territory.?Judy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward

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Selected by

Deborah Digges