Gold Shoes by Leanne Grabel



“Darts of disclosure. Like the zing of a thought too fast to identify. Words the lips must reveal. Gold Shoes poems are divided. Into colors. Illustrated. In bright Mexican colors. Colors Dad liked. With black & white drawings providing subtitle perspective. Mother’s fragile bones in the Brown section. Father’s sapphire pinkie ring in the Blue section. And the blond beret of the Father in the Red Section. The beret Leanne wears now. ‘The Day Mother Died’ is in the Yellow section, but really it’s own. Section. These are prose poems about relationships. Aging. The spouse. The gristle that hides between teeth. Roll-on deodorant. A longhaired wig. They’re about shoes (do I need to mention this?). Poems that dig into brain crevices. Poems that dig a divot. Over eyebrows “right where I rue.” Poems made up of. Short phrases. Barely a full sentence anywhere. Fragments. For emphasis. Periods at the end. Of everything. Punctuation to slow us down. To speed us up. All those clues. In all those spaces. So much hidden. Between all those periods. And then there’s the question marks. Gold Shoes makes me want to write great words like Leanne.”

–Carla Perry, author of Riva Beside Me, and owner of Dancing Moon Press.

Leanne Grabel
uses humor like a knife to dispense wisdom.  The poet takes us on a journey, through her father’s jewelry box and into her mother’s closet, where rings slice fingers, clodhoppers turn feet into root vegetables and dreams serve as footnotes to fading memories.  We would like to learn the lessons of life from our parents but get a grip, you’re on your own and there’s no going back.   After reading “Gold Shoes” even the Dalai lama might think twice about reincarnation.  One life, well lived, is enough.

–Casey Bush, Citizen of Poetland, Editor of The Bear Deluxe Magazine, author of the soon to be released Student of the Hippocampus. 


Gold Shoes,” a collection of “graphic rectangular prose poems” is alive with energy. Even in the book’s quiet moments, these pages stir and buzz as this poet, also a graphic artist, allows us into her family of origin, her marriage, jealousies, dreams, and her grief. Leanne Grabel’s poems are taut and toned. Her phrasing is percussive. Her writing dares to arc into a high-dive, then, able to land with grace. Her illustrations give the expression “not afraid of color” a run for its money. Grabel’s wit, candor and exuberance bring clear-eyed honesty to the forefront, leaving fear in the rear-view, way, way back there, in the dust.

–Suzanne Sigafoos, Author of Held in the Weave (Finishing Line Press)


Illustrated impetuously throughout with line-drawings and bursts of coruscating color, Gold Shoes stands apart from poetry publishing norms in unexpected ways—plucking cues from classic graphic storytelling and pop impressionism, with coquettish savour-faire. Visually, Shoes is vivid and satisfyingly stark. The poems themselves, are almost too personal, yet present flash floods of humour and grief, explorations of the cathartic arts, lamenting facelessness in the path of empires. Grabel’s lines are lean, sinuous, etched from subconscious imprints of love, rage, loss, stupidity. You know.The good stuff.

–John Dooley, American writer, performance poet, author and composer: Oral Foibles.


“Take the shining timeline of our personal histories and pick one golden word at a time- pluck them out of the stream, place them in a row. Allow each of them to become a marker and then fill in all the heartbreak, elation, humiliation, and mundane moments as you will. Leanne is so terse, giving only what we need in order to know exactly the humanity of her experience. But the tenderness and bewilderment of loving our parents exactly as they are revealed to us, and hers are to her in this book, brims out of these lines. Honest, exact, and true.”

–Amie Zimmerman, poetry editor for Drunk in a Midnight Choir and author of Kelley Point and Oyster.


Gold Shoes, Leanne Grabel’s graphic collection of prose poems is both playful and poignant as she celebrates life as an array of multi-colored boxes.  Poems about helping her long-lived mother bathe or her father’s habit of picking his teeth acknowledge the way in which we grow impatient with this dear thing called life, even as we cherish memories of beloved parents in whom we see the arc of our own lives. Gold Shoes is a multi-media book.  These poems beg to be read aloud and Grabel’s original drawings add a lively dimension.  Hats and shoes, a Lions club pin, old Leonard Cohen records, gray hair and aches in the knees,—mothers and daughters and husbands and fathers, dreams of falling, good manicures, and much more. This is definitely a book you will enjoy reading more than once. –

–Barbara Drake, author of Morning Light (essays), Driving One Hundred (poetry), and numerous other books and publications.





Gold Shoes

by Leanne Grabel

$21.99, Full-length, paper


Leanne Grabel, M.Ed., is a writer, illustrator, performer and special education and language arts teacher (in semi-retirement). In love with mixing genres and media, Grabel has written and produced numerous spoken-word multi-media shows, including “The Lighter Side of Chronic Depression”; “Anger: The Musical”; and “The Little Poet.” Her poetry books include Flirtations; Lonesome & Very Quarrelsome Heroes; Short Poems by a Short Person; Badgirls (a collection of flash non-fiction, as well as a theater piece); and most recently, Assisted Living, a chapbook of graphic prose poems. Grabel has just completed Brontosaurus Illustrated, an illustrated stretched memoir, which is being serialized in THE OPIATE and upcoming in Your Impossible Voice. Grabel taught Language Arts as a special education teacher in a residential treatment center for a dozen years. She and her husband Steve Sander are the founders of Café Lena, Portland’s legendary poetry café of the 90s. Grabel has two daughters, an itty bitty granddaughter, and the best dog.



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