Danika Stegeman LeMay, “Pilot”


Inventive poems constructed, in part, from found (lost) materials.

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Pilot is a delight to read. A new kind of erasure, the book pulls its raw materials from the popular TV series LOST, speaking from a common source through borrowed tongues. Like the Odyssey‘s Penelope, LeMay weaves a tapestry within carefully set boundaries, only to unravel what’s been wrought and repeat, repeat, repeat. The landscape of the book is constructed at the crux of the lyric and the image and invites the reader in. It looks like a jungle that’s caught fire. Amid flames, the limits of confession and the confines of agency come into question. The voice is intimate; the gaze is violent. Ultimately, Pilot is a book about recovery and human connection. How do we save one another in a nearly consumed, increasingly isolated world?

Pilot is Danika Stegeman LeMay’s visionary first book. Pilot, as in the person who operates an aircraft; as in, the tv program made to test the audience; as in, an unmodulated reference. The poems here are funny and weird; no, they are serious and sad. The poems pop with images. The poems talk. Poems? No, not poems, but pieces of poems—like a broken series someone once watched, once sunk into like a tv set. At stake is less the surviving, or not, but the idea of losing oneself to all sorts of modern construction sites. “We let the screen light our faces. We became ghosts.” To recover is to cut, to code, to splice. We must recover, Pilot seems to plead, to plead with an urgency as beautiful as it is smart. “What I need is/an autopilot. Auto-/ pilot to bear the agency./ What I need is an other/ to lift the words out/ from under my skin.””
– Sally Keith

“Danika Stegeman LeMay, in her magnetic first book, gives us poems that ride the crests of waves in a time of tumult—our times, to be sure—an an age without antecedent, where so many of the lessons culture has passed along over the centuries seem useless. A great pleasure of the poems in Pilot is the pleasure of being clandestine. What do you do when you share with the like-minded a sense of both luck and responsibility as you shake off survivor’s guilt? When a burning, post- truth world seems to be the web we are stuck in? LeMay’s poems show us that even those so doomed get our shot at beauty, at connection, at joy, that, until nothing beside remains, what we say matters most about being human—in these blips that we call our lives—really does.”
– Matt Mauch

“Among the ruinous utterances of the lost, Danika Stegeman LeMay has found the language to build a church of love. In her debut poetry collection, we find words of crash, of fiery blood, of jungle and smoke, of anguish and relief, of cool blue water, of embrace. Despite the danger, we each of us should eagerly climb into Pilot, for it is LeMay’s hope that she might share with us her love, if only we’re willing to accept her invitation.”
– Ryan Call


Pilot is Danika Stegeman LeMay’s first full length book of poems. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, Aaron, and their daughter, Vera. Together they run Frontrunner Screen Printing in White Bear Lake, MN. Danika has an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University. Her work has appeared in Alice Blue Review, Cimarron Review, CutBank Literary Journal, Denver Quarterly, Forklift, OH, Juked, Lo-Ball, NOÖ Journal, Poetry City, USA, Sporklet, and Word for/ Word, among other places. Her website is danikastegemanlemay.com.

Additional information

Weight .277 lbs