Propositions and Prayers, Lise Downe’s first book of poetry in nine years, is a collection in two parts: “Propositions” is a series of short poems-as-possibilities, structured by the compression of images and voices to convey an urgency through degrees of incoherence; “Prayers” explores living and language as acts of devotion.
These poems blur the boundaries between inner and outer experiences of the self, often subverting expectations and habit in their deconstruction of structure and style. It beautifully portrays humanity’s myriad complexities: our various moods and observations, the unpredictable trajectories of our lives—uncertainty, wonder, and surprise, all.
Praise for Propositions and Prayers:
“To read Lise Downe’s Propositions and Prayers is to find oneself in the company of a mind both congenial and disquieted. Her improvisations—centrifugal, probing, and anchored in the reality of a scarcity of time off work and notes “hand-marked ‘Urgent’”—are motivated by an integrity of intellect and emotion. I find Downe’s poetry refreshing for its lack of emphasis on the performative and its profound trust in the self’s and the world’s mutual unfolding. What a beautiful book.” —Mark Truscott, author of Branches
“Each small poem — “transforming/ vocals to vapor to portals” — is parsed to the delicate point of philosophical focus and, yet, also, vibrates with Downe’s trademark robust enjoyment at weird worldly things and uncanny views. This collection is enormously perfect for both three a.m. staring into catastrophe and seven a.m. rising to the glinting secular benediction of getting-on-with-it. “I have/ glossy chestnuts,” says the narrator in a rare direct look into her reader’s lens. Yes, you do, oh, how you do.” —Margaret Christakos, author of Her Paraphernalia
Most Anticipated: Our 2020 Fall Poetry Preview —49th Shelf
“[Lise Downe’s] poems unfurl, slowly and carefully, and in even the most abstract directions her language might take, it is a head and a heart that are very much in control, directing her language into further possibilities. Hers, in the finest sense, is a trusted, intuitive craft.” —rob mclennan’s blog
A ‘best of’ list of 2020 Canadian poetry books —rob mclennan, dusie
“Through these propositions and longer prayers, and with a rhythm that clips and hops with alliteration and inquisitive enjambment, Downe is a gracious and curious leader, guiding us as we guide ourselves.” —Wanda Praamsma, periodicities
Lise Downe is the author of four previous collections of poetry: A Velvet Increase of Curiosity (1993), The Soft Signature (1997), Disturbances of Progress (2002), and This Way (2011). Lise also studied painting, printmaking, and jewellery design for many years. Originally from London, Ontario, Lise lives and works in Toronto.