Mailbox Monday #706

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has its own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Thank you to Velvet for stepping in when Mailbox Monday needed another host.

Emma, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s What I Received:

Fixed Star by Suzanne Frischkorn, which I purchased.

The opening poem, “Cuban Polymita,” from which the title Fixed Star arises, serves as the scaffolding device for Frischkorn’s manuscript. Like the beautiful painted snails it references, the book, too, is a series of spirals: mainly, a pair of sonnet coronas whose recursive lines twine through the manuscript, both framing and bracing it. Navigating splits in language, geography, government, culture, and family-Frischkorn guides us through poems that are, contrapuntally, both luxuriant and lean. Swirling through this compact, honed manuscript is a series of citations (Shakespeare, John Cage, Muriel Rukeyser, John Keats, Normando Hernández González), and geographies (Cuba, Spain, Florida, Pennsylvania) that create transit across decades and differing terrains. Constellated with Latin jazz, jasper, sea glass, bougainvillea, contradanza, and coral reefs, Fixed Star is a brilliant treatise on violence, division, loss, longing, and the search for song. Simone Muench

Country of Glass by Sarah Katz, which I purchased.

Country of Glass is the debut poetry collection from Sarah Katz, who offers an exploration of the concept of precariousness as it applies to bodies, families, countries, and whole societies. Katz employs themes of illness, disability, war, and survival within the contexts of family history and global historical events. The collection moves through questions about identity, storytelling, displacement, and trauma, constructing an overall narrative about what it means to love while trying to survive. The poems in this book—which take the form of free verse, prose poems, sestinas, and erasures—attempt to address human fragility and what resilience looks like in a world where so much is uncertain.

Taste: A Book of Small Bites by Jehanne Dubrow, which I purchased.

Taste is a lyric meditation on one of our five senses, which we often take for granted. Structured as a series of “small bites,” the book considers the ways that we ingest the world, how we come to know ourselves and others through the daily act of tasting.

Through flavorful explorations of the sweet, the sour, the salty, the bitter, and umami, Jehanne Dubrow reflects on the nature of taste. In a series of short, interdisciplinary essays, she blends personal experience with analysis of poetry, fiction, music, and the visual arts, as well as religious and philosophical texts. Dubrow considers the science of taste and how taste transforms from a physical sensation into a metaphor for discernment.

Taste is organized not so much as a linear dinner served in courses but as a meal consisting of meze, small plates of intensely flavored discourse.

What did you receive?

The Arranged Marriage by Jehanne Dubrow

Source: Gift
Paperback, 57 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Arranged Marriage by Jehanne Dubrow reads like mini-memoirs of marriages on the rocks, marriages marred by abuse, marriages that require covering up.  These arrangements are made consciously and sometimes with little say by the women engaged in them.  Much of the truth about these women is concealed, but even that concealer is thin and, in many cases, see-through.

“Wait long enough and anything takes on a
sheen of sharpness. Mustn’t leave her hands
untied. She could stare the whorl from
fingertips. Cut him with her eyes.” (from “All the Sharp Things”, pg. 7)

In “The Handbag,” the speaker examines the contents of a wife’s purse at the back of the closet and how it hides things from her husband.  She leaves to buy groceries, and while her husband may control what is purchased, there are so many possibilities outside that she can take advantage of if she so chooses.  Does this woman choose to go to the police station?  Does she read and improve her mind away from her husband? The possibilities are endless.

In “House of the Small Dictatorship”, cigars are clipped, pages of a newspaper are opened, and many other things get done without the husband lifting a finger. But the woman’s efforts are rarely mentioned. In “Domesticated Fowl of the Sula Valley”, birds fly away and the girls are given little explanation. Dubrow uses this poem to shed light on many of the missing girls and women and how their fates are never known. Even as these compact poems resemble the cloistered lives of these women — some controlled by their spouses — they also espouse a sense of hope in between the lines.  A freedom they can see but that they will need the courage to take ahold of it.

The Arranged Marriage by Jehanne Dubrow is harrowing and sad. The poems leave an indelible mark on the reader, and her verse is chock full of imagery that surprises. Many of these poems will be long remembered, a lasting testament to the women who have suffered — many in silence.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Jehanne Dubrow is the author of five poetry collections, including most recently The Arranged Marriage (University of New Mexico Press, 2015), Red Army Red (Northwestern University Press, 2012) and Stateside (Northwestern University Press, 2010). She co-edited The Book of Scented Things: 100 Contemporary Poems about Perfume (Literary House Press, 2014) and the forthcoming Still Life with Poem: Contemporary Natures Mortes in Verse (Literary House Press, 2016). Dots & Dashes, her sixth book of poems, won the 2016 Crab Orchard Review Series in Poetry Open Competition Awards and will be published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2017.

Mailbox Monday #355

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Falling for You by Jill Mansell from Anna for Christmas — Thank you!

As a teen, Maddy Harvey was a bit of an ugly duckling. Luckily she’s blossomed since then, and Maddy thanks God for this small miracle when a tall, handsome stranger comes to her rescue one starry summer’s night.

Instant attraction turns to disaster-in-the-making when Maddy learns the identity of her superman: Kerr McKinnon. Of all the colorful residents of the small Cotswold town of Ashcombe, why did it have to be him? Because as family feuds go, the Montagues and the Capulets have nothing on the Harveys and the McKinnons.


The Arranged Marriage: Poems by Jehanne Dubrow from SantaThing.

With her characteristic music and precision, Dubrow’s prose poems delve unflinchingly into a mother’s story of trauma and captivity. The poet proves that truth telling and vision can give meaning to the gravest situations, allowing women to create a future on their own terms.



The Emperor of Water Clocks by Yusef Komunyakaa from SantaThing.

“If I am not Ulysses, I am / his dear, ruthless half-brother.” So announces Yusef Komunyakaa early in his lush new collection, The Emperor of Water Clocks. But Ulysses (or his half brother) is but one of the beguiling guises Komunyakaa dons over the course of this densely lyrical book. Here his speaker observes a doomed court jester; here he is with Napoleon, as the emperor “tells the doctor to cut out his heart / & send it to the empress, Marie-Louise”; here he is at the circus, observing as “The strong man presses six hundred pounds, / his muscles flexed for the woman / whose T-shirt says, these guns are loaded“; and here is just a man, placing “a few red anemones / & a sheaf of wheat” on Mahmoud Darwish’s grave, reflecting on why “I’d rather die a poet / than a warrior.”

Through these mutations and migrations and permutations and peregrinations there are constants: Komunyakaa’s jazz-inflected rhythms; his effortlessly surreal images; his celebration of natural beauty and of love. There is also his insistent inquiry into the structures and struggles of power: not only of, say, king against jester but of man against his own desire and of the present against the pernicious influence of the past.

Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg, which I got from SantaThing for a second time.

The prophetic poem that launched a generation when it was first published in 1965 is here presented in a commemorative fortieth Anniversary Edition.

When the book arrived from its British printers, it was seized almost immediately by U.S. Customs, and shortly thereafter the San Francisco police arrested its publisher and editor, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, together with City Lights Bookstore manager Shigeyoshi Murao. The two of them were charged with disseminating obscene literature, and the case went to trial in the municipal court of Judge Clayton Horn. A parade of distinguished literary and academic witnesses persuaded the judge that the title poem was indeed not obscene and that it had “redeeming social significance.”

Thus was Howl & Other Poems freed to become the single most influential poetic work of the post-World War II era, with over 900,000 copies now in print.”

Emma got me this great bag for Christmas too!  Thank you!

What did you receive?

310th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 310th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s book suggested.

Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Today’s poem is from Jehanne Dubrow:

Much Tattooed Sailor Aboard USS New Jersey

Squint a little, and that’s my husband
           in the photograph, the sailor on the left—
the one wearing a rose composed of ink
           and the Little Bo Peep who stands
before a tiny setting sun and the blur
           on his forearm which might be a boat—
while the sailor on the right is leaning in,
           his fingers touching the other man’s skin,
tracing what looks like the top of an anchor
           or the intricate hilt of a sword, perhaps
wiping blood from the artful laceration,
           in his other hand something crumpled,
his cap I think or a cloth to shine brass,
           lights on a bulkhead, fittings and fixtures,
because let’s not forget this picture
           must be posed, the men interrupted—
mops laid down, ropes left uncoiled, or else
           on a smoke break, Zippo and Lucky Strikes
put aside—the men shirtless on a deck,
           legs bent at beautiful angles,
a classical composition this contrast
           of bodies and dungarees, denim gone black
and their shoulders full of shadow—
           although on second thought how effortless
this scene, both of them gazing toward
           a half-seen tattoo so that we too lean in
trying to make out the design on the bicep,
           close enough we can almost smell the salt
of them and the oil of machinery,
           which is of course the point, as when in a poem
I call the cruiser’s engine a pulse inside my palm
           or describe my husband’s uniform,
ask him to repeat the litany of ships and billets,
           how one deployment he sliced himself
on a piece of pipe and how the cut refused
           to shut for months—Hold still, I tell him,
I need to get the exquisite outline of your scar.

What do you think?

197th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 197th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2013 Dive Into Poetry Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry. Please sign up to be a stop on the 2013 National Poetry Month Blog Tour and visit the stops on the 2012 National Poetry Month Blog Tour.

Today’s poem is from Jehanne Dubrow‘s The Hardship Post:

Third Generation

We dream of falling as we fall
               asleep, but wake to feel
the weight of quilts, our pillows chill

       as granite to the cheek.
What science calls the hypnic jerk---
               a heartbeat slows too quickly

in the body's cage, air ripped,
        lynched half between the lips
and ribs.  We know that memory skips

                some families like a stone
across a lake.  They sleep alone.
         But we, the chosen ones,

are chosen for a crowded sleep,
                        each night compelled to leap
the barbed wire ledge, a heap

                of limbs.  We somersault
to spill ourselves on basalt
         slabs below.  It's not our fault,

this twitch of muscles snapping us
         from rest, electric pulse
so like descent we drop weightless

         until we flinch awake,
so sure of death that we mistake
                 our nightmares for the ache

         of breaking bone.

What do you think?

For Today’s National Poetry Month Tour post, click the image below!

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.

Red Army Red by Jehanne Dubrow

Red Army Red by Jehanne Dubrow is a collection that is broken down into three, clear sections — Cold War, Velvet Revolution, and Laissez-Faire — with a preface section — Red Army Red — and one poem, “Chernobyl Year.”  Dubrow’s narrator recalls the lives of American Diplomats in Communist-controlled Poland during the Cold War and pays homage to the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia and the rebellion of youth before concluding in the commercialized freedom and excess of capitalism.  Her poems are all at once playful, somber, and achingly real.

From "Aubade": (page 9)

Often I lay awake to listen for
my parents returning from the embassy,
a key toothing the lock, the front door

opening to let them in, its rusty
hinges a metal warning.  Every
evening the same.  I drank the words cold war

from the water glass on my nightstand.

Her words echo even after the end of each line, and sometimes even in the middle of a line, leaving a haunting impression on the reader. In “Vinegar Aphrodisiac,” the narrator asks, “What’s sweet//without the wanting, the queue around the block/when even you are out of stock?” The lines for food in a communist society even when there is no more left, and the hope that there will be something there for them when they get to the front of the line. The wanting or the hope is palpable and heartbreaking. The poems in the first section eerily reflect the realities of the time, and there is a juxtaposition of the diplomat life with that of the Poles — “Each morning my mother’s velvet purse/wilted on a chair, empty of its midnight contents:/ruby lipstick, tiny lake of a pocket mirror./My father’s tie lay crumpled on the bed./The romance of objects–both their costumes/on hangers again, still clasping the scent/” (from “Fancy,” page 12)

There is unrest in the second section — the upheaval of adolescence marked by the rising up of workers and society against a communist society that fails to live up to expectation, a theme prominent in “Five-Year Plan.” A deep, unbidden want bursts forth in Dubrow’s lines as the communist Poles want release from their worker chains, so does the diplomat’s daughter want escape from the “crystal” world in which she lives just outside reality, yet feeling that reality keenly. Not entirely part of the communist world, but not completely outside of its empty promises. Always beneath the austere exterior in these poems, there is a burning passion waiting to explode onto the page, and while it may not happen in the same poem, explosions of light, sex, and want emerge of their own volition and when least expected.

Red Army Red by Jehanne Dubrow is a phenomenal collection that is bound to generate much discussion from book clubs, but it also speaks to the truths of ideals and realities and how they never meet expectations.  In many ways, the collection comments overall on the “grass is always greener” idiom, but it also highlights the separation felt by a young woman growing up in a foreign land and having the freedom her country provides, but at the same time feeling the constraints of her host nation.  Amazing use of imagery, politics, real events, and more.

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.

If you’re going to be in Boston for the AWP conference in March, you might catch Dubrow at a couple of panels.

This is my 5th book for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013.

185th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 185th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2013 Dive Into Poetry Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry. Please visit the stops on the 2012 National Poetry Month Blog Tour.

Today’s poem is from Jehanne Dubrow from Red Army Red:


We dreamed of glowing children,
their throats alive and cancerous, 
their eyes like lightning in the dark.  

We were uneasy in our skins,
sixth grade, a year for blowing up, 
for learning that nothing contains 

that heat which comes from growing, 
the way our parents seemed at once 
both tall as cooling towers and crushed

beneath the pressure of small things—
family dinners, the evening news,
the dead voice of the dial tone.

Even the ground was ticking.
The parts that grew grew poison.
Whatever we ate became a stone.

Whatever we said was love became 
plutonium, became a spark 
of panic in the buried world.

This poem was featured on American Life in Poetry and in West Branch.

What did you think?

Mailbox Monday #207

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Suko’s Notebook.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received from Anna at Diary of an Eccentric and her family over the holidays:

 1.  The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked-out streets, illicit partying, and sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, The Night Watch tells the story of four Londoners-three women and a young man with a past-whose lives, and those of their friends and lovers, connect in tragedy, stunning surprise and exquisite turns, only to change irreversibly in the shadow of a grand historical event.

2.  The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons

It’s the spring of 1938 and no longer safe to be a Jew in Vienna. Nineteen-year-old Elise Landau is forced to leave her glittering life of parties and champagne to become a parlor maid in England. She arrives at Tyneford, the great house on the bay, where servants polish silver and serve drinks on the lawn. But war is coming, and the world is changing. When the master of Tyneford’s young son, Kit, returns home, he and Elise strike up an unlikely friendship that will transform Tyneford-and Elise-forever.

3.  Red Army Red by Jehanne Dubrow

Displaying a sure sense of craft and a sharp facility for linking personal experience to the public realms of history and politics, Jehanne Dubrow’s Red Army Red chronicles the coming of age of a child of American diplomats in Eastern Europe in the 1980s. In the last moments of the Cold War, Poland—the setting for many of the poems—lurches fitfully from a society characterized by hardship and deprivation toward a free-market economy. The contradictions and turmoil generated by this transition are the context in which an adolescent girl awakens to her sexuality. With wit and subtlety, Dubrow makes apparent the parallels between the body and the body politic, between the fulfillment of individual and collective desires.

Here’s one other book I received to share with Wiggles from a family friend:

4. The Tall Book of Fairy Tales by Eleanor Graham Vance and William Sharp

This illustrated collection of classic fairy tales was first published in 1947. This edition was first issued in 1975, and preserves all the delightful illustrations of the original. The stories in this collection are: Snow White and Rose Red, Rumpelstiltskin, Tom Thumb, The Golden Goose, The Sleeping Beauty, The Bremen Town Musicians, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Puss in Boots, The Brave Little Tailor, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Jack and the Beanstalk, Beauty and the Beast, The Golden Touch, and The Shoemaker and the Elves.

Here’s What I received for review:

5. The Tell by Hester Kaplan for a TLC Book Tour in mid-January 2013.

Mira and Owen’s marriage is less stable than they know when Wilton Deere, an aging, no longer famous TV star moves in to the grand house next door. With plenty of money and plenty of time to kill, Wilton is charming but ruthless as he inserts himself into the couple’s life in a quest for distraction, friendship—and most urgently—a connection with Anya, the daughter he abandoned years earlier. Facing stresses at home and work, Mira begins to accompany Wilton to a casino and is drawn to the slot machines. Escapism soon turns to full-on addiction and a growing tangle of lies and shame that threatens her fraying marriage and home. Betrayed and confused, Owen turns to the mysterious Anya, who is testing her own ability to trust her father after many years apart.

6. Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick from Algonquin, unexpectedly.

It is the summer of 1948 when a handsome, charismatic stranger, Charlie Beale, recently back from the war in Europe, shows up in the town of Brownsburg, a sleepy village nestled in the valley of Virginia. All he has with him are two suitcases: One contains his few possessions, including a fine set of butcher knives; the other is full of money. A lot of money. Finding work at the local butcher shop, Charlie gradually meets all the townsfolk, including Boaty Glass, Brownsburg’s wealthiest citizen, and most significantly, Boaty’s beautiful teenage bride, Sylvan.

7. The Round House by Louisa Erdrich, which is the National Book Award Winner.

One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe’s life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.

What did you receive?

Interview With Poet Jehanne Dubrow

From the Fever-World
By Jehanne Dubrow

In the fever-world, my dearest,

our hands aren’t clean

for very long, the brambles

biting in our palms,

deep thorns across our life lines–

here, even the shrub

surrendering fruit to the picker

resents the sacrifice and wants

its juices given back in blood.

if you are hungry, starve yourself.

Make a desert of your thirst.

Don’t fall asleep

Here, my dearest,

there’s only wilderness where fields

should be, only the blackberries

concealing knives,

cherries pitted with buckshot

to choke the unsuspecting throat,

and peaches whose centers hold

dark stones of cyanide.

– first appeared in The Barn Owl Review

I’ve been working on a interview project with Deborah at 32 Poems magazine, and she kindly allowed me to interview past contributors to the magazine. We will be posting the interviews throughout the coming months, and our seventh interview posted on Deborah’s Poetry Blog of 32 Poems on March 13. I’m going to provide you with a snippet from the interview, but if you want to read the entire interview, I’ll provide you a link for that as well. For now, let me introduce to you 32 Poems contributor, Jehanne Dubrow :

1. How would you introduce yourself to a crowded room eager to hang on your every word? Are you just a poet, what else should people know about you?

I suppose one of the most interesting things about me is my nomadic childhood. I was born in a little town in Northern Italy and grew up in Yugoslavia, Zaire, Poland, Belgium, Austria, and the United States. Oh, and when I twenty-years-old, I played a gangrenous valley girl in the movie An American Werewolf in Paris (sadly, I ended up on the cutting room floor). I still remember my line: “Claude’s parties are wack!!!”

2. Do you see spoken word, performance, or written poetry as more powerful or powerful in different ways and why? Also, do you believe that writing can be an equalizer to help humanity become more tolerant or collaborative? Why or why not?

For me, written poetry has the emotional force expected of spoken word and performance poetry, while also having a life on the page. I haven’t seen evidence that writing makes us more tolerant or collaborative. Writers tend to be a critical bunch—our craft depends on having a sharp eye and a small sliver of ice in the heart.

3. Do you have any obsessions that you would like to share?

I have an odd mix of obsessions, half scholarly and half not-so-much: Holocaust studies, American Jewish literature, my dog Argos, midcentury modern design, and Hermes scarves.

4. Poetry is often considered elitist or inaccessible by mainstream readers. Do poets have an obligation to dispel that myth and how do you think it could be accomplished?

Nowhere else in the world do people worry or complain about the elitism of poetry. When Americans complain that poetry is elitist, what they’re really addressing is the strong strain of anti-intellectualism in this country. Americans don’t like to feel stupid, and poetry often makes them feel stupid. I don’t think poetry needs to become less elitist; I think we need to do a better job teaching students how to read poems or, for that matter, how to look at paintings, how to listen to operas, how to watch ballets.

From the Spring Issue of 32 Poems by Jehanne Dubrow:

Ida Lewin (1906-1938)
AlwaysWinter, Poland


Each year, the chill creeps in
By June, our eaves sharp
with iron icicles, our windows
rattling like teeth against the cold
AlwaysWinter we call this town
because the ground won’t thaw,
no matter how we press skin
to skin, make a fire from
this friction we call love.
Thistles remain needles, each blade
of grass a blade that slices
to our soles AlwaysWinter
we say to justify the frozen places
everywhere—the constant
the wind, the tundra buried
deep inside our bones

Want to find out what Jehanne’s writing space looks like? What music she listens to while she writes? Find out what she’s working on now, her obsessions, and much more. Check out the rest of my interview with Jehanne here. Please feel free to comment on the 32 Poems blog and Savvy Verse & Wit.

Jehanne Dubrow’s Bio:

Jehanne Dubrow’s work has appeared in Shenandoah, Poetry Northwest, Gulf Coast, and Prairie Schooner. She is the author of the poetry collection, The Hardship Post, winner of the Three Candles Press First Book Prize (2009), and a chapbook, The Promised Bride (Finishing Line 2007). A second collection, From the Fever-World, won the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Award and will be published in 2009. Her third poetry collection, Stateside, will be released by Northwestern University Press in 2010.


I also have two copies of Diana Raab‘s My Muse Undresses Me and one copy of Dear Anaïs: My Life in Poems for You. Deadline is March 18 at 5PM EST.

One gently used ARC of Reading by Lightning by Joan Thomas; Deadline is March 20 at Midnight EST.