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Window Left Open


Jennifer Grotz


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The poppies are wild, they are only beautiful and tall
so long as you do not cut them,
they are like the feral cat who purrs and rubs against your leg
but will scratch you if you touch back.
Love is letting the world be half-tamed.
--from "Poppies"

In this lush, intricately crafted collection, Jennifer Grotz explores how we can become strange to ourselves through escape, isolation, desire--and by leaving the window open. These poems are full of the sensory pleasures of the natural world and a slowed-down concept of time as Grotz records the wonders of travel, a sojourn at a French monastery, and the translation of thoughts into words, words into another language, language into this remarkable poetry. Window Left Open is a beautiful and resounding book, one that traces simultaneously the intimacy and the vastness of the world.

Praise For Window Left Open: Poems

“Grotz establishes an intimacy with her readers through the deconstruction of personal moments. . . . Her adroit language . . . renders the quotidian into devastating vulnerability.”Publishers Weekly

"Window Left Open is a trove of morose and arresting moments that begs its reader to linger over it, to steep in its quiet gloom—the lonesomeness and despondence of the everyday. Grotz is an impeccable observer. . . . [She] laces even the most benign occasions with beautiful devastation."The Paris Review, Staff Picks

“There is an innate holiness to Jennifer Grotz’s newest collection.”Gulf Coast

“Meditative and lush. . . . The collection’s centerpiece—a window left open—is the most lustrous image, a reminder to be perceptive, curious, and infinitely vulnerable. And when Grotz writes, ‘I’m eager to pluck the stars,’ you not only believe her but ache to do the same.”Booklist

“Extraordinary . . . a contemplative spirit — calm but alert — permeates the poems.”San Francisco Chronicle

“Refreshing. . . . The sensory honesty of her language invites us in, as do her neatly trimmed sentences. . . . This juxtaposition of simplicity and sudden insight is reminiscent of Sufi poems.”—Santa Fe New Mexican

“Grotz has a unique talent for using the final lines to drastically change a poem’s meaning, keeping the perspectives fresh and the narratives engaging. . . . Grotz’s poetry is an exploration of the way secrets lie just beneath the surface of even the most banal experience. She weaves together the outside and the inside, the social world and the natural world, to create webs that ensnare with their first lines.”Pleiades

“Grotz’s glimpses of nature are unique in their exceeding stillness, the meditative patience with which she examines these slim slices of the world. . . . [Her poems feel] like the lyrical equivalent of a still life painting. . . . There is an economy of language here that gives every word a weight, even if that is only the weight of a snowflake or a blade of grass. . . . Window Left Open is a slim and deceptively elaborate collection, one that lingers in the heart and mind of the reader.”—Fourth and Sycamore

“Moving between the act of human perception and the reality of the external world, Grotz gifts us with a way of seeing the world with an evanescent clarity. . . . Window Left Open is a stunning and masterful tribute to the natural world. . . . These poems resonate with the miracle of life on earth and deserve a place among the classics.”—The Journal (West Virginia)

“The supreme art of Window Left Open is that of close attention to the world the poet passes through. An ode is written to everything—often sad, often ecstatic—and through this loving examination, some terror is exhumed, all things being equally beautiful and frighteningly strange when the poet turns her gaze on them. Jennifer Grotz is the tour guide we want through our journeys on both sides of this window. The domestic is as thrilling in her music as the most far-flung destination. This collection, and each poem in it, accelerates with cascading syntax married to wild and reverent imagery. It's a book that left me wide awake and far from home but not alone. The poet who guided me through these passages illuminated them for me, too. Jennifer Grotz is a real poet, the kind who offers the reader a whole new way to be alive in this life.”—Laura Kasischke

“When I first read Jennifer Grotz’s ‘Poppies,’ all I could tell you was that I liked its sound. . . . It was elemental, and I think almost every poem I love is like that for me. . . . But then I went back and I saw the philosophy at work. Grotz writes of our constant desire to tame the world, and even the righteousness of that desire. . . . She writes of the anguish that ultimately comes from trying. . . and then, finally, our sadness at the whole thing. ‘Love is letting the world be half-tamed,’ Grotz writes. I think you could say that about a lot more than just the natural world that she is addressing. That’s a lesson we’re constantly learning.”—Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Paris Review, “The Poem Stuck in My Head”

“Jennifer Grotz’s poems are rooted in the fundamental question of ‘why write?’ Is the answer ‘to understand,’ ‘to describe,’ ‘to measure,’ ‘to judge,’ ‘to pray?’ With quick turns toward a natural world as exotic as dragonflies, scorpions, and peacocks and toward an artificial world as particular as the ‘moss hot-glue-gunned on mother’s cuckoo clock,’ Grotz moves uneasily between perception and memory. She is a poet who knows to speak to animals, including human animals, in the languages of their own terroirs.”—Susan Stewart

“Jennifer Grotz is a hunger artist. She loves to let life in. I admire the solemn precision of her poems. Her mind thinking—about life and art, about landscape and love, about loneliness and loss—illuminates everything it touches.”—Henri Cole

Graywolf Press, 9781555977306, 72pp.

Publication Date: February 2, 2016

About the Author

Jennifer Grotz is the award-winning author of two previous poetry collections, The Needle and Cusp. Her poetry has appeared in The New Republic, The New Yorker, and Best American Poetry. She teaches at the University of Rochester.