Author Richard Lemm’s memoir Imagined Truths: Myths from a Draft-Dodging Poet will be released in September. Published by Tidewater Press, the launch will take place October 7.
History is the story an individual or nation tells itself, in an ongoing process of reinvention, and that story is one of imagined truths.
Richard Lemm grew up in 1950s Seattle, raised by alcoholic grandparents, with an absent mother and a fabled father who died shortly after he was born. To avoid the draft, he left the land of opportunity and moved to Canada in 1967. Now, more than fifty years later, he uses his poet’s sensibility to examine his cultural heritage, including the optimism that characterized the early years of the “counterculture” and the darker days that followed the murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Turning his lens inward, he focuses on what he believed to be true about his family and society at the time, how that perception has evolved and how the stories we tell ourselves inform our personal, cultural and national identities.
Familiar myths—the wild west, the “greatest country on earth,” the “true north strong and free,” the red-blooded male and others—strongly influenced Lemm’s generation on both sides of the border. Revisiting these tropes in light of his later experiences, Lemm explores the ways in which we use imagined truths to justify our place in the world.
A mixture of personal recollection and social commentary, this is a story about growing up in a family and country you didn’t choose and coming of age in the country and with the people you did.
Lemm has taught creative writing and literature at UPEI since 1988. He is the author of six poetry collections, a short fiction collection, and a biography of Milton Acorn. A past-president of The League of Canadian Poets and past co-chair of Access Copyright, he has served on juries for The Canada Council for the Arts, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the CBC Radio Literary Competition, and the Governor General’s Award for Poetry.
A book launch will be held October 7 at Beaconsfield Carriage House, 2 Kent Street, Charlottetown. Register at eventbrite.ca.