The poems in David Memmott’s poetry collection Lost Transmissions speak to the need we have to explore the depths of our own psyches, a need so insistent that many of us would sell our souls to unearth the answers to what motivates our lives—what motivates our actions. The poems express as well the power of verse, how it can help us rise above those experiences that might otherwise be crippling—war, death, brutality, loss of love, loss of voice and creativity, the soul’s variable value, the insecure body and mind never knowing where the doors to understanding are, nor how many dimensions surround us unexplored.
David Memmott has published five books of poetry, a novel and a story collection. His poem, “Where the Yellow Brick Road Turns West,” was a finalist for the 2010 Spur Award from Western Writers of America. The Larger Earth: Descending Notes of a Grounded Astronaut was selected as one of 150 best poetry books for 150 years of Oregon statehood by Poetry Northwest and Oregon State Library. He is a Fishtrap Fellow, a recent Playa resident and recipient of three Fellowships for Publishing from Literary Arts, Inc., for his work as editor and publisher of Wordcraft of Oregon, LLC. He recently completed a new novel, Canned Tuna, and is looking for a publisher. He is also managing editor of Phantom Drift: A Journal of New Fabulism. He lives in La Grande, Oregon, with his wife, Sue, and two yellow labs. Photo by Sue Memmott.
“I tried to sell my soul/ repeatedly/ but times are tough and the devil/ can afford to be choosy.” The god of Memmott’s collection is more of a forgiving Christ figure than an unforgiving Yahweh, though Yahweh is there as well undermining every acolyte’s foundation, threatening to topple the answers reached for in line after line. I, too, “… wonder how much of this history/ is more myth than map.” Whatever the equation might be, the total impact is magical—magic tethered to an imagination hugely singular, one of a kind—unique, inimitable, igniting truth after truth “concealing no weapons.”
—Duff Brenna, author of Murdering the Mom and The Book of Mamie
In his new collection, Lost Transmissions, David Memmott does as he has done over the last 40 years; he leads us from “the edge of the American Dream” and all its contradictions, “to the center of the world,” where generosity awaits our arrival. There’s often an austerity of resources out there at the margin, but moving steadfastly toward the core of what wants to go on living, David Memmott uncovers the “dignity of survival” in lives lost to history or otherwise ignored.
—David Axelrod, author of What Next, Old Knife?
ABOUT “WHERE THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD TURNS WEST,”
2010 FINALIST FOR SPUR AWARD FOR BEST WESTERN POEM
[In “Where the Yellow Brick Road Turns West,” Memmott finds] a retrospective introspective narrator—a voice both boy and man, a voice that could shape a recursive story line, a voice that could jostle and juxtapose past and present, action and reflection.”
—George Venn, author of Keeping the Swarm: New and Selected Essays