In All Their Animal Brilliance
The Association for Mormon Letters presents an Award in Poetry for 2005 to
Lance Larsen for his collection, In All Their Animal Brilliance, published
by the University of Tampa Press.
Over the past 20 years Lance Larsen has steadily established himself as a
poet of national renown, publishing in significant literary periodicals
ranging from Paris Review and Salmagundi to Tar River Poetry, Southern
Review, and The Times Literary Review. His second published collection, In
All Their Animal Brilliance, reflects the vigor and range connoted by its
title, and invites critics to recognize Larsen's sophistication and passion.
Larsen's is a Mormon voice, but not the sort Mormons might recognize from
the inspirational verse that decorates homilies. Larsen is courageous enough
and disciplined enough to step beyond hackneyed patterns into authentic and
thoughtful expression grounded in the paradoxes of Mormon experience and
belief. In poems such as "This World, Not the Next" Larsen invokes a Mormon
existentialism, but lyrically, not theologically. God pleads with Adam and
Eve to return to "a savory forever of his making. / But it was this world,
with its tides and machinery / of sweet decay they learned to love."
This describes Larsen's own poetry, whose mundane settings and situations
recall both the puzzles and pleasures of life in a marriage, or as a child.
Larsen is unafraid to love the imperfect flesh, literally (in such poems as
"Bodies, Terrestrial," which respects pain, or "Between," about "replotting
desire" in marriage). He is equally unafraid to love the imperfect flesh of
language. Several poems turn upon catalyst words: "Moji" or "Planaria" or
"Palimpsest"-but as affection, not affectation. To Larsen words are both
handy and joyous; curious, and adequate-somewhere between this world and the
next, to which he invites us through his chiaroscuro invocations of the
quotidian and the eternal.