Life Revised by Leah Stenson
Leah Stenson’s Life Revised, a memoir about suicide, is a compelling literary montage of poetry and narrative prose that examines the author’s reactions to the simultaneous loss of her grandparents–one by suicide, the other an unintended consequence of that suicide. In this unflinching and revealing exploration of personal tragedy, Stenson takes us beyond suffering to her ultimate healing through her Buddhist practice. In a world where suicide is relentlessly on the increase, the need for open, honest communication surrounding suicide and its aftermath has never been greater. Life Revised offers insight into resilience of the human spirit.
“If we are to read poetry and prose together in words that speak directly to our spirit, let it be in the beautifully, heart embracing warmth and affection of the language of Life Revised. The complexity of Stenson’s work and clarity of language draws the reader into family dynamics, challenging us to bear witness to transcendence unfolding within and around us. Life Revised shows us how we can know ourselves, and through this discover healing of the heart and mind.”
—Dr. Fanny Brewster, Jungian analyst and author of Archetypal Grief: Slavery’s Legacy of Intergenerational Child Loss
“In prose reflections and poems that invoke the landscapes, rooms, sounds and atmospheres of the past, Life Revised maps a journey from anger’s unknowing to new understandings and the perspectives they afford. In this moving and courageous book, Leah Stenson becomes, as she affirms, the author of her own life.”
—Lex Runciman, author of Salt Moons: Poems 1981-2016
“Breaking apart a life of struggle, perseverance, despair, and hope into brief fragments that must resonate individually while, combined, paint a robust human portrait is a monumental task. But Stenson does it, somehow, magically, with wisdom and honesty, exploring the many contradictions and paradoxes of relationships—both familial and societal. Her ability to probe the human condition with such elegant prose and heartfelt poetry is a treat that remains fresh and vital to the last page.”
—John Sibley Williams, author of As One Fire Consumes Another and Skin Memory
“Here is a modern woman boldly sharing her truth. Life Revised is both wise and compelling. Leah Stenson makes no attempt to disguise her troubles, mistakes, or regrets. Instead she shows us her winding path from trouble to understanding. Once I started following Stenson on her journey, I couldn’t stop reading.”
—Penelope Scambly Schott, author of A is for Anne and Love Song for Dufur
Cirque Press Author — Leah Stenson
Leah Stenson grew up on Long Island, New York where she completed an M.A. in English Literature at State University of New York at Stony Brook.
She worked as an assistant editor in New York City for Hawthorne Books and School Library Journal, then moved to Tokyo where, after graduating from a special program in the Japanese language, she spent sixteen years teaching English, doing editorial work and raising two daughters.
After moving to Oregon in 1993 she served for a few years as managing director of Oregon Peace Institute while continuing to offer editorial assistance to a Buddhist organization headquartered in Japan.
She hosted the Studio Series, a monthly poetry reading and open mic for seven years at Ross Island Café/Stonehenge Studio in Southwest Portland, and currently serves on the board of Tavern Books.
In addition to poetry, she has published essays, editorials and feature articles for various newspapers and magazines and co-authored a textbook for Japanese students of English. Finishing Line Press published her poetry chapbooks, Heavenly Body in 2011 and The Turquoise Bee and Other Love Poems in 2014. WordTech Communications’ Turning Point Press published her first full-length poetry book, Everywhere I Find Myself, in 2017.
She served as a regional editor of Alive at the Center: Contemporary Poems from the Pacific Northwest (Ooligan Press, 2013) and co-edited Reverberations from Fukushima: 50 Japanese Poets Speak Out (Inkwater Press, 2014) with Asao Sarukawa Aroldi. She has hosted Stafford commemorative birthday readings at Lake Oswego and Beaverton Libraries and the Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River and has been a featured reader at numerous poetry readings in the Portland area, among them the Gender Studies Symposium at Lewis and Clark College, Friends of William Stafford readings, the Peregrine Series, the FoPo Series, Conversations with Writers, Free Range Poetry, the Press Club, Annie Bloom’s Books, Lan Su Chinese Garden and Mother Foucault’s Bookshop.
She has also read at the Book Bin in Salem, Grass Roots Books in Corvallis, at the River Road Series in Eugene and at Bloomsbury Books in Ashland.
In Washington State, she’s read in Vancouver at Barnes and Noble and at Ghost Town Poetry; in Olympia at Orca Books; in Tacoma at King’s Books; and in Seattle at Greenlake Library.
Leah’s poems have been featured in such publications as the Oregonian, NW Women’s Journal, Oregon Literary Review, Portland Alliance, Thresholds, Verse Weavers, Tiger’s Eye, San Diego Poetry Annual, VoiceCatcher, Colere, Cirque and Cloudbank.
Although much of her time is spent in Portland and Parkdale, Oregon in the Hood River Valley, she is equally at home in New York and Tokyo.