Jon D. Lee

Jon D. Lee begins this new collection of poems with a well-known quote from Ecclesiastes reminding us that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Old wisdom, and maybe so. Certainly Lee’s themes are old ones: confrontation with mortality; the nature of love; the mysteries and joys of parenthood; imagining the decay of his own parents; the burden of self-doubt and the responsibilities of daily choice. Ecclesiastes might be right, but what is clear is that Lee does not rely on received notions about what he encounters; what’s new is his own sensibility, his determination to truly see and feel for himself the world he inhabits. It’s that honesty, born of an unwillingness to take any easy way that he passes on to his readers. I’ll listen to him any day.

—Samuel Green, Inaugural Washington State Poet Laureate

With disarming intimacy, Jon D. Lee’s These Around Us draws us close, calls us by name, swaddles us in its generous embrace. For Lee’s are big-hearted poems, forged in home-hearth fires stoked by family and familiars, formed in the white heat of devotion. Even the smallest of these fires burns hot enough to consume, yet with deft hand, Lee turns us gently and leads us inside, where the warmth glows like home. His people are waiting, they smile as we approach—and in that bright light, Lee makes us one of them.

—Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, author of Dancing Naked

Jon D. Lee’s poetry collection fulfills my expectations of a writer whose family collected poets like some families collect pets. In his youth, Lee washed breakfast dishes with Poets Laureate, fetched refreshment for poets non-laureate and heard next year’s Pulitzer winner trying a new poem out loud in the living room. Music, language, art and literature suffused the household, as did the excellent, humbling counterpoint of pig-farming. “Charon, Over an Egg and Cress Sandwich, Speaks of Ferrying the Dead” brings a twist of mythology into perspective on decay, death and despair; Lee’s vivid images arise from the humus of life and death on the pig farm. “The Old Man and the Truth” honors all of those men and women writers who brought storytelling and poetry into his life. One and all, they would be proud.

—Bill Ransom, author of The Woman and the War Baby