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Buy Lee Rossi's DARWIN'S GARDEN Here!

Lee Rossi's latest collection of poems, Darwin's Garden, is NOW AVAILABLE. Order your copy by clicking HERE!

In Darwin’s Garden poet and critic Lee Rossi returns to the original garden, childhood, in search of clues to his long, strange life. Part paleontologist, part historian, he seeks to uncover the physical and cultural artifacts left behind in the long climb to adulthood. Is it religion, is it science, is it myth which best describes the arc of a life? He tries them all, and finds only himself wanting.


Much as Darwin walked his ‘thinking path’ in his garden at Down House in Kent, Lee Rossi teases out the hidden structures of experience in this remarkable work on childhood, bearing the freight of ancestors, masculine codes, sex, religion, and the not-so-tender mercies of nuns, and parents. Not a journey, really, but a meander through complex configurations of relationship and dissolution, a rueful contemplation, a gutsy truth-telling. These poems are sharply observed and nuanced, both stinging and wise. Do not miss anything under the section entitled ‘A Lucky Stiff.’

— Marsha de la O, author of Antidote for Night

Lee Rossi’s brilliant poetry takes us on a journey from his puzzled Midwest childhood to an ever-searching maturity, his lyric heart skillfully exploring the strange contradictions he encounters. His poems in this wonderful collection are dazzling, serious, wry, self-effacing, illuminating.

— Peter Neil Carroll, author of The Truth Lies on Earth

Lee Rossi’s new collection, Darwin’s Garden: Studies from Life, is a powerfully engaging exploration of becoming and being a white man, born in the shadow of WWII, raised middle class in America’s suburbs, with your heritage boiled down to blandness. The question of what made a man was answered in this particular past by the worship of soldiers, by the bruises [that] bloomed like roses on the body of one speaker’s rough father, and by the injuries the speaker of another poem incurs as a boy when he dares to show mercy to the loser of a childhood game. Rossi grapples with big subjects in this fine book—with boyhood and fatherhood, with love and sex, with religion and sin and complicity. That he does so successfully speaks to his always-deft deployment of vivid, devastating detail and gorgeous imagery. Readers curious to map the effects of toxic masculinity, not least on the masculine themselves, need look no further than these pages.

— Francesca Bell, author of Bright Stain

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