The Hardship Post by Jehanne Dubrow

The Hardship Post by Jehanne Dubrow, published by Three Candles Press, is about the many posts that we take on in life that are in the midst of the fray — whether that is the overseas diplomat in a war-torn country or the descendent of a Holocaust victim.  Dubrow’s verse is infused with its own rhythm and even sometimes an internal rhyme, and this musicality penetrates the mind of the reader, bringing to life not only the harsh, and sometimes distant, memories of pain, but the reverberations of that pain decades into the future.

From Bargaining With the Wolf: (page 9-10)

The world's been tamed--your fangs are white
as though you seldom kill, twilight
now hums a stranger violence.
I hate these bloodless cadences.
Teach me to howl, to bay, to bark
new terrors prowling through the dark.

Section one of this collection seems to have a greater universality to them, and in many ways, these poems become more and more personal as they enter into section two. For instance, “Exile’s Fairytale” talks about the anxiety of being a refugee and how that life leaves a mark just as the life left behind — and each life subsequently left behind as the refugee continues to pack up and move on. “beneath her skin–these are the birthrights/of refugees. She trespasses/but never finds a place to rest,/each night the uninvited guest.” Does she mean that the refugee is the uninvited guest or is it more that the night is the uninvited guest because it leaves him/her with his or her thoughts and memories of the past.

The most resonant section of the collection is part two as a “Third Generation” much removed from the initial pain still carries the weight of that “Baggage”: “fix DNA, defect that made/us find the door in any space,/a gene that warned me when to slide/the suitcase from its hiding place.” (page 26). There are internal changes that are absent to the naked eye that Dubrow explores, particularly how events can change someone’s internal outlook or cause a new habit to form, but on the outside everyone still sees that person as “sweet” like in “Kosher Dills.”

The Hardship Post by Jehanne Dubrow has crafted a heartbreaking collection of how the past continues to haunt and mark us, but it also calls for pride, a sense of accomplishment that survival was even possible.  But it also calls on the rest of us who are not as personally touched by the tragedies of the holocaust to remember what happened, the deep scars that were left, and to step away from the belittling nature that can sometimes tarnish history with platitudes and patina.

About the Poet:

Jehanne Dubrow is the author of four poetry collections, including most recently Red Army Red and Stateside (Northwestern UP, 2012 and 2010). Her first book, The Hardship Post (2009), won the Three Candles Press Open Book Award, and her second collection From the Fever-World, won the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Poetry Competition (2009). Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, The Promised Bride, in 2007.

Her poetry, creative nonfiction, and book reviews have appeared in journals such as Southern Review, The New Republic, Poetry, Ploughshares, The Hudson Review, The New England Review, West Branch, Gulf Coast, Blackbird, Copper Nickel, Prairie Schooner, as well as on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily.

Please click on the image below for today’s National Poetry Month tour stop!

This is my 9th book for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013.


  1. Do you own this one? Sounds like one I’d definitely want to read. You’ve been raving about this poet, so I must read some of her work.

  2. The poem you highlighted seems a little angry to me. I felt it leaping off the page, going for my jugular.

    • I would definitely say that the poem I used…the portion of it…is angrier than some of the others, but it really caught my attention.

  3. http://Staci says

    Beautifully written review of this collection of poetry!!