Early in her new poetry collection, Lauren Goodwin Slaughter speaks of “the necessary oomph.” Which is also an excellent way of describing the pizazz of this wonderful book. Though titled a lesson in smallness, Slaughter’s language is large, attentive, loving, and dynamic, even while acknowledging that our connections to others—in this case, as wife, mother, daughter—sometimes require a steep mortgage on a woman’s most intimate and individual desires. I love this book’s truthfulness and clarity of vision, and I’m betting you will, too.
~ Erin Belieu
a lesson in smallness is a book seized by hunger and the umbilical. It is at once a travelogue, a junk drawer, a menu, a romance, an anti-romance, a cultural inquiry, and a mystery, which is to say it is fascinating and not at all aimless but deft, meticulous, and at the same time lavish. It proceeds by pleasurable and painful tension and release to a Rilkean abundance. The sensational third section of the book is an eruption into Slaughter’s full powers of language in the service of transport. The “smallness” is a modest way to say her acts of attention expand our sense of what is possible. It’s a beautiful [and dangerous] debut.
~ Bruce Smith
a lesson in smallness is an invitation that builds--word by shiveringly, perfectly placed word, cadence by subtle, breath-catching cadence—into shifting vignettes, vistas, vision. Vastly imponderable, and also close, and cherished: nature and human nature and the nature of art, all at once in these moving poems. A book to read and read again.
~ Robin Behn
Lauren Goodwin Slaughter’s debut collection, A Lesson in Smallness, is a series of occasional
poems for the outer edges of the quotidian. The activity of the poems takes place at funerals,
or on vacation, at an air show, at a national park, volunteering in a meal delivery program, or
in the aftermath of a tornado...Slaughter’s poems are conspiratorial with the reader. You know,
that too-full feeling. Pleasure, for Slaughter, comes double-edged with warning.
~ Davy Knittle, American Microreviews
It is a testament to the author’s skill that she can write a modern love poem that is moving yet not maudlin,
in the same way that she can depict personal tragedies again and again without undermining the speaker’s emotions or
rendering them as overwrought. The lesson in smallness that is inherent in Slaughter’s work lies in this attention to
the ordinary moments that make up a life, the small but grand details, characters, and emotions that can change a person irrevocably.
~ Annick MacAskill, Pank Magazine
Reading Lauren Goodwin Slaughter’s a lesson in smallness reminds me of Jane Hirshfield’s statement about poetry:
“…true poems, like true love, undo us, and un-island. Contrary, sensual, subversive, they elude our customary allegiance
to surface reality, purpose, and will.” The poetry in this lovely debut collection are true poems of this sort. They immerse
the reader in stunning water imagery and thrill her with peeks (three poems!) inside the life of the Barefoot Contessa.
More significantly, this collection raises essential questions about the nature of our personal lives: Who are we within them?
How do we reconcile our expectations for our lives with what we find to be our reality? It is the examination of these questions
that reveal Slaughter’s poems to be as emotionally astute as they are beautifully crafted.
~ Tina Mozelle Braziel, Alabama Writer's Forum