By Jennifer Grotz
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780547444123, 80pp.)
Publication Date: March 2011
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Following her debut collection, Cusp, chosen by Yusef Komunyakaa to win the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Bakeless Prize, the composed, observed quality of Jennifer Grotz’s The Needle will remind readers of the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop and Ellen Bryant Voigt. Whether she is describing a town square in Kraków, where many of these poems are set, the ponies of Ocracoke Island, a boy playing a violin, or clouds, she finds the lyrical details that release an atmosphere of heightened, transcendent attention in which the things of the world become the World, what Zbigniew Herbert called “royal silence.”
Jennifer Grotz's poems have appeared in Tri-Quarterly, Ploughshares, Black Warrior Review, New England Review, Best American Poetry 2000, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing the PhD in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston. She received her MFA in poetry and MA in english at Indiana University in 1996, and completed her BA at Tulane University in 1993. She has received grants and scholarships from the Oregon Arts Commission, Literary Arts Inc., the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the National Society of Arts and Letters. She is also the author of Not Body, a limited edition letterpress chapbook, published in 2001 by Urban Editions.
"Despite the fraught subject matter, the mood of these poems remains calm, the rhythm of the lines not hurried by any dramatic enjambments or eccentric syntax. Grotz writes in whole sentences, with a prose logic. By the book's close, memory is not a stitching but "that museum... inventoried in opposition to the present." —Publishers Weekly
"Grotz, as ‘an apostle of the now,’ offers readers a phenomenology of the visible and the invisible hidden between the lines of the world and the cracks of the evening. A beautiful book, a book of experience and early wisdom, The Needle is a summing up of what has happened and a promise of things to come." —Adam Zagajewski, author of Without End
"Jennifer Grotz's poems have so many virtues—elegance, a disposition by turns philosophical and romantic, an existential maturity and intentness rare in a young poet—or an old one. The poems in The Needle practice a rare weighing and mulling of what human life is; and, in a manner almost European, they seem addressed to the world, at times quite critically, at others in passionate allegiance. This work dares largeness and tenderness, and it lifts us with it." —Tony Hoagland, author of Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty
"These eloquent poems of cities and childhoods are compelling from the first line. In lyrics which are always crafted and intense, a powerfully displaced speaker circles remembrance and grief, balancing detail upon detail until a vivid world appears, ready to topple at any moment into music and elegy. This is a wonderful second collection." —Eavan Boland, author of Domestic Violence