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Imagined Truths: Myths of a Draft-Dodging Poet

Forthcoming September 2021,
Tidewater Press, Vancouver

Imagined Truths begins with the story of an “all-American” boy born in Seattle the year after the Second World War ended. Descended from several generations of war veterans, he immigrated to Canada as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War and transformed into an enthusiastic Canadian with enduring American roots.

The memoir delves into family myths and facts, from German immigrants to America fleeing famine and violence in the 1850s, then migrating north to Alberta to hunt wolves and sell moonshine, to his mother’s logging family on the west coast of Washington State. We find Lemm’s great-grandfather fighting at Gettysburg, Grandpa Lemm in the Battle of Manila during the Spanish-American War, and his Canadian father in an American uniform in the European and North African campaigns.

A gifted mother afflicted by tragedy and mental illness, the logging-camp grandmother and bartender grandfather who raised the future war resister, and a magnificent pioneer great-grandmother loom large in Lemm’s life and memoir. Interwoven with the stories are reflections on various myths and their relationships with historical and contemporary reality: the wild west, nuclear family, noble warrior, man’s man and dutiful son, land of opportunity, greatest country on earth, and true north strong and free. Taking us from patriotic pageants at Disneyland to a Canadian citizenship ceremony, Imagined Truths ventures back and forth across the border, exploring the presence and power of these myths in our personal, cultural, and national histories.

Imagined Truths is as important politically and historically as it is emotionally and stylistically.”
Steven Heighton, author of Reaching Mythymna

Imagined Truths… is a poignant story of a father who died young, a mother who spent years in an asylum, and their son, who made his way to Canada after the draft.”
Anne Simpson, author of Speechless.

“An amazing life has produced an amazing book… even including ‘Henderson’s Goal.’ After you read this book, the words ‘American’ and ‘Canadian’ will be even more meaningful to you.”
Douglas Gibson, publisher, editor, and author

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