|BROADSTONE BOOKS announces
|Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Paperback, 64 pages
Booksellers: Available from
Small Press Distribution
Lynn McGee is the author of Tracks
(Broadstone Books), Sober Cooking (Spuyten
Duyvil Press, 2016), and two award-winning
poetry chapbooks: Heirloom Bulldog (Bright
Hill Press, 2015) and Bonanza (Slapering Hol
Press, 1996). Her poems have appeared in many
journals and anthologies. She earned an MFA in
Poetry at Columbia University School of the
Arts, where she held teaching and merit
fellowships. She was awarded a MacDowell
fellowship, is a winner of the Judith's Room
Award, and taught widely in private and public
colleges, secondary schools and literacy
programs before becoming a communications
manager at Borough of Manhattan Community
College, The City University of New York. She
resides in the Bronx, New York. For more
information, visit lynnmcgee.com.
The tracks of which Lynn McGee writes are both literal and metaphorical. Many of
these poems are based on observations along her daily commute on the New York
City subways, and she captures both the urban landscape and her fellow riders with
great sensitivity — particularly those marginalized by race or sexuality.
I’ve seen this all before.
I’ve been the girl popping her gum,
the older woman showing
the shadow between her breasts.
I’ve been the boy wanting to be
part of something that doesn’t
want him, and I’ve been the stranger
But in a greater sense she writes of the tracks that we each leave in one another's
lives, and particular those left by her sister who died too young of a brain aneurysm,
whose memory haunts her commutes. She writes of finding the brown paper bag into
which the paramedics had stuffed her sister's clothing,
put my face into its mouth
and breathed my sister’s
familiar scent — cigarettes,
hair spray, cologne — reliving
her last day, windows down
and hair flying, radio thumping,
the roadside rippling
with tall grass, one fine
apple nestled in her satchel.
These are poems of passage, through space and time, light and dark, through life and
beyond it, and McGee exhorts us to breathe in each moment along the way.
“The schedules of ghosts / are more erratic than trains”, she observes in the title
poem. “Even the living / stall in dark places, hurtle / toward light.” In the face of
uncertainty, of mortality, our best hope, as she puts it in her closing poem, is to
Come home safely tonight to our chaos,
walk quickly from light to light.
I listen for footsteps, the iron gate closing,
knuckles of hinges, the dark vines behind you.
Praise for Lynn McGee and Tracks
“Don’t forget to look up,” Lynn McGee tells the reader in the first poem of Tracks.
These are eye-opening poems that transform an ordinary city bus into a box of light
rushing through a cityscape and subways move through “crumbling shoulders of
tenements.” McGee’s keen lens zooms in and out with utmost clarity. Devoid of
judgement, her chiseled language startles with originality. It rushes to the city’s erratic
beat, slows to witness girls whipping their heads “as if shaking off water.” Always
looking, the poet urgently reports back our human experience with expansive
tenderness and physicality. I was particularly drawn to poems about her vibrant sister,
and the yearning for her after her death: “…late at night, I watch that actress for a
glimpse of you — long face and gray eyes.” This is a tactile poet, adept with syntax
and slant rhyme, scent and sound. Lynn McGee’s poems are precise, incisive, and
profound. Her subjects are on their way somewhere else. You will want to linger,
watching alongside her.
— Pamela Davis, 2014 ABZ Poetry Prize Winner for her full-length
Tracks, by Lynn McGee, carries us like passengers on a train into the human life of
the daily commute. We board each poem and take a ride. The scenery streams past
us, each of us inhabiting a body that travels through life with a private song streaming
into our heads, “One in a million!” Intimate, open-hearted, McGee’s voice as fellow-
voyager and guide is pitch perfect. About the stranger standing against “the silver
pole, / shoulders back / and feet planted in a plié / so natural…” — he could be
anyone, a dancer on the way to rehearsal, or the waiter who will serve you your salad.
A child whose mother recently died tells her aunt, “You’re in the wrong / space.
Tomorrow, be over there.” Tracks are the prints to follow to your destination. They
are the words McGee uses to “to wake myself / and write this life, / into something I
want.” These poems will take you there.
— Mary-Sherman Willis, author of Graffiti Calculus, and Grace Notes:
Appogiatures, a translation of Jean Cocteau
Lynn McGee sees the world in fierce vivid takes. Her poems explore a woman’s love
for a woman, the loss of a beloved sister, and the dailiness of challenges to both
family and fellow travelers. Via quick poetic clips and the New York City subway
system, she catapults us through tunnels and on elevated tracks into the “hard
curves.” We hitch a ride with the poet and her passengers on their commute, and
when they detrain, attempting to leave by the in-turnstile, they are given a physical
jolt and simultaneously realize there is no exit. In her poem “Ledge,” McGee writes:
“A machine was in charge then / and a machine / is in charge now….”
— Joseph Zaccardi, Marin County, California poet Laureate (2013-2015)
and author of A Wolf Stands Alone in Water
|Cover artwork by Teresa Parod, used by permission