In a time when writing poetry seems to be more about self-promotion than art, Susan Lefler's first collection of poems brings us gently back to the transformation that happens when poetry becomes a way of rendering one's life. Lefler has studied with some of the country's best poets, laboring in the way every poet must to bring her voice to its own rich timbre. She understands how miracles can be found in the most mundane places, as when, in "Secular Chocolate" one finds hidden beneath the "random chair... the candy egg/ cradling a mysterious universe, /ours for the asking."
Rendering the Bones achieves what the late Richard Hugo claimed was the bottom line for any poem--believability. The reader trusts these poems, knowing they contain no empty air, rather the human breath itself rendering the things of this world and their mysteries through language.

Kathryn Stripling Byer
Author of Wildwood Flower & Coming to Rest
Former Poet Laureate of North Carolina

Rendering the Bones is a living mandala that opens and opens at its center in an endless dance of disappearance, transformation and reappearance, "drawing life from so far back it's new." These poems hold together with such tenderness the world we're given to know and the one we are not that the boundaries between them dissolve. From the man with the umbrella who compulsively paces the streets "as if by moving quickly he might dodge / whatever chases him, or at the very least / face it coming back," through the beloved, lost father who "knows wings... / …knows what it is / to glide your way homeward / through the dark" these poems guide us to a space where questions and answers, flight and fall, are one and the same. "What is it like to crawl / from your own mouth / leaving crystal tangles on the floor?" the voice of the collection asks a snake at large in an abandoned house, and the poems themselves answer-the earth quakes and we can only "continue to breathe / and plead / and shake."

Diane Gilliam

Instead of drawing edges/ draw the heart of the thing: thus opens the first poem of Susan Lefler's first collection, Rendering the Bones. Lefler sets up a serious imperative for her reader, and honestly so, since throughout this deeply moving and exquisitely crafted book, she never fails to follow her own advice. Lefler moves easily between a world of broken umbrellas, mad old roosters, stubborn warts and a darker world of earthquakes, hurricanes, the poignant deaths of her own mother and father. I have long awaited a full-length collection by this fine poet. Rendering the Bones is even more deeply satisfying than I imagined.

Cathy Smith Bowers, Poet Laureate of North Carolina