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Biography & Autobiography Literary

Imagined Truths

Myths from a Draft-Dodging Poet

by (author) Richard Lemm

Tidewater Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2021
Literary, Popular Culture
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
    List Price

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Richard Lemm grew up in 1950s Seattle, raised by alcoholic grandparents, with an absent mother and a fabled father who died shortly after he was born. To avoid the draft, he left the land of opportunity and moved to Canada in 1967. Now, more than fifty years later, he uses his poet’s sensibility to examine his cultural heritage, including the optimism that characterized the early years of the “counterculture” and the darker days that followed the murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Turning his lens inward, he focuses on what he believed to be true about his family and society at the time, how that perception has evolved and how the stories we tell ourselves inform our personal, cultural and national identities.


Familiar myths—the wild west, the “greatest country on earth,” the “true north strong and free,” the red-blooded male and others—strongly influenced Lemm’s generation on both sides of the border. Revisiting these tropes in light of his later experiences, Lemm explores the ways in which we use imagined truths to justify our place in the world.


A rewarding mixture of personal recollection and social commentary, this is a story about growing up in a family and country you didn’t choose and coming of age in the country and with the people you did.


History is the story an individual or nation tells itself, in an ongoing process of reinvention, and that story is one of imagined truths.



About the author

Richard Lemm (1946) grew up in Seattle, Washington, came to Canada in 1967, and moved to Prince Edward Island in 1983. He is a professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Prince Edward Island. From 1977 to 1987, he was a faculty member at the Banff School of Fine Arts, and he is a past president of the League of Canadian Poets. Prelude to the Bacchanal (1990) won the Canadian Authors#&39; Association Award for poetry. Lemm was literary editor at Ragweed Press for three years, and he is the author of the biography Milton Acorn: In Love and Anger (1999).

Richard Lemm's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Richard Lemm. . . has written a candid, eloquent and insightful memoir of his own experiences as an American transplant in Canada. This book is a meaningful document that chronicles one person’s response to the volatile political and ideological climate in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s . . . a wise and illuminating account of an exceptional life shaped by extraordinary times." IAN COLFORD, The Miramichi Reader

"Richard Lemm applies a poet’s line-by-line discipline, eye for detail, and ear for language to every sentence in this exceptionally vivid, affecting memoir . . . Imagined Truths is as important politically and historically as it is emotionally and stylistically." STEVEN HEIGHTON

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