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In a Tension of Leaves and Binding

In a Tension of Leaves and Binding

By Renée M. Sgroi

In a Tension of Leaves and Binding is an exploratory journey that examines our relationship to the natural world through the lens of a single garden. Enunciated from both a human perspective and from the imagined voices of the plants and animals that actually live in the garden itself, this collection also explores conceptual and visual articulations that function to disrupt our assumptions about poetry, meaning, and language. Woven through these dialectical conversations is a dominant elegiac thread that explores the territory of grief while simultaneously grappling with the possibilities for hope against the limits of language. The book concludes with a meditative essay or “Author’s Notes” that describe the processes and approaches employed and also work to pose questions that maintain the integrity of the entire manuscript’s fluidity, experimental form, and openness.


(Essential Poets)


123 pages |

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Right from the first poem we are taken sometimes like a whirlwind, other times held tenderly in a palm of Mother Nature’s hand into a world of leaf and bole, the umwelten of garden, forest and backyard. Sgroi’s poems explore the mystery of living organisms we tend to take for granted. This collection makes us consider the world around us and the languages spoken we do not listen to. Renée M. Sgroi is listening.

This book is a wonder, playing with form and language and stretching the boundaries of what the very best poetry can achieve. These nature-rooted poems, take the ordinary and, through the poet’s alchemy, transform the everyday into something magical. This book, dazzles “enough to silver, to shine, gold and chiaroscuro with light.” At once erudite and inviting, here is a beautifully written collection of fresh and interesting poems that is as earthy, rich and lush as the gardens Sgroi celebrates.

In this brilliant cornucopia of varied poetic styles and diverse perspectives, a passionate and benevolent imagination interleaves excitingly with a scientifically-informed intellect. The grounding presence – both metaphoric and visceral – of the vegetable garden exerts a binding force, one of whose most engaging features is a giving voice to denizens such as onion, carrot, grasshopper, ant, and even its clay. The “binding” is also that of the leafy pages that persistently fold in the tensions of a loving but challenging mother-daughter bond. Altogether, a big, bristling assemblage that is bound to enlighten – and move – its readers multiply, in highly unusual ways.

Allan Briesmaster, author of The Long Bond and Windfor

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About the author

Renée M. Sgroi holds a PhD in Education from the University of Toronto, an M.Sc. in Creativity and Change Leadership from SUNY Buffalo State, and works as a post-secondary educator. A runner up in the UK's 2020 erbacce poetry prize, her debut poetry collection, life print, in points, was published that year by erbacce-press. Renée's poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies including Pinhole Poetry, The /temz/ Review, The Windsor Review, The Beliveau Review, Lummox (U.S.), Prairie Fire, The Prairie Journal, Fresh Voices, and many others. Renée is a contributing editor to Arc Poetry Magazine. Her second poetry collection is forthcoming in 2024.