by Michelle Lerner
In Protection, Michelle Lerner explores the wonder and challenges of parenting from pregnancy through early childhood, taking on subjects rarely considered in poetry such as difficult labor, c-section, questions of gender identity and development in young children, and the experience of parenting while chronically ill. Throughout the chapbook, she comes back, over and over, to the eternal dilemma of how to balance the urge to protect one’s child with the acknowledgement of the child’s need for self-development and risk-taking, how to distinguish “the you from the me/ the definition from destruction/ the stumble from the fall.”
About the Author
Michelle Lerner is a recovering public interest lawyer and cat herder. She’s currently raising a magpie-like child while emerging from the depths of late-stage chronic Lyme Disease, writing songs on a shiny new guitar, and unsuccessfully trying to establish a disciplined schedule to work on her poetry and fiction.
She received an MFA in poetry from The New School and her poetry manuscripts have been selected as finalist for The Poetry Box® Chapbook Prize and semifinalist for the 2018 Pamet River Prize and the 2020 Willow Run Poetry Book Award. Her individual poems have appeared in many journals and other fora, including VQR’s Instagram Series, Harvard Women’s Law Journal, Paterson Literary Review, Lips, Adanna, Knock, and Sixfold, as well as several anthologies.
The manuscript for her debut novel, Ring, has been selected as a finalist for Book Pipeline’s Unpublished Contest and the Bridge Eight Fiction Prize, long-listed for the Dzanc Prize for Fiction, and chosen as a Notable Selection for the Chapter One Prize, while it awaits a publisher.
Michelle recently became a writing mentor for We Are Not Numbers, a nonprofit that publishes the autobiographical stories of Palestinians living under occupation and in refugee camps. <wearenotnumbers.org>
Early Praise for Protection:
Michelle Lerner’s debut chapbook Protection is a breathtaking poetic journey of pregnancy and motherhood. I love Lerner’s luminous imagery that fuses at times with an unexpected searing irony. There is an originality of subject matter and candor dealing with exploring gender identity of children that reinforces this author’s openness and intelligence. Her poem “House” may be the fiercest and most tender poem about pregnancy I’ve ever read. Michelle Lerner is a new shimmering star on our poetry planet.
—Laura Boss, author of The Best Lover, editor of Lips
Michelle Lerner’s Chapbook of poems, Protection, explores the relationship between parents and their unborn child and traces it to the child’s development as a separate human being with the freedom to choose an identity. These are beautiful lyric narratives that touch the heart.
—Maria Mazziotti Gillan, American book award winner and poet,
author of Blooms in Winter,
editor of Paterson Literary Review
The title poem in Michelle Lerner’s lovely and nuanced chapbook, Protection, speaks of teasing out “the definition from destruction/ the stumble from the fall.” This theme of the necessary danger of experience is central in these bold poems on parenting and its discoveries. Searching from within the personal and the wider world the poems create a vivid and moving portrait of a life in our moment, written with vulnerability, insight, and a keen eye for fresh, revealing detail.”
—Jennifer Michael Hecht, Ph.D., author of Who Said (Copper Canyon)