Would-Land by Jill Alexander Essbaum
Paperback, 85 pages
$15.00 + t/s/h
From the back of the book:
Jill Alexander Essbaum’s poems are made of felt terror, where the speaker asks, out of fear, “can a fire burn in the rain?” In a ruined landscape of unpredictable devastation, Essbaum haunts the erotic wreckage of a brutal world, transcending with a determination that is enduring, boundless, unforgettable.
—Diana Marie Delgado, Tracing the Horse
As the title of this gorgeous collection suggests, Would-Land is an adventure in wordplay and the discoveries of our heart- and hearth-truths that language (in its inevitable slippage) can reveal. And the slips of both language and self are what’s at stake here. Oscillating between elegiac and epigrammatic, Essbaum’s poems share at once the ecstasies of sound and syncopation of a modern-day Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the acerbic insights of a more sensuous Dorothy Parker, with a little of Emily Dickinson’s taut ferocity for the sublime thrown in. Love, loss, coupling, uncoupling, coupleting, incompleting, faith, forgiveness—all of this and more is explored in these poems which are both gut-wrenching in their candor and lavish in their language. I am an unrepentant fan.
—Rebecca Lindenberg, Love, An Index
Jill Alexander Essbaum is an ace at poetic closure, and these poems are all about endings—of a marriage and of a suite of former selves. In twisty triple rhythms and sound-driven prose poetry, she portrays how a couple “drilled and hit demons,” and what came after. Language itself becomes the consolation: slant-rhyming, suggestive, and mutable, it leads poet and readers into landscapes of possibility. These poems convey vulnerability with virtuosity.
—Lesley Wheeler, The State She's In
Jill Alexander Essbaum is the award-winning author of several collections of poetry including Heaven, Harlot, Necropolis, and the single-poem chapbook The Devastation. Her first novel Hausfrau debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List and has been translated into 26 languages. Her work has appeared in dozens of journals including Poetry, The Christian Century, Image, and The Rumpus, as well as multiple Best American Poetry anthologies. A two-time NEA fellow, Jill is a core faculty member in The Low Residency MFA Program at University of California-Palm Desert. She lives in Austin, Texas.