Jeanne Emmons was born in Louisiana, received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas, and currently lives and teaches in Iowa. Her work has appeared in literary journals such as Alaska Quarterly Review, American Scholar, Prairie Schooner and New Orleans Review. Emmons’ poetry has won numerous awards, including the James Hearst Poetry Prize for 2006.
Jeanne Emmons’ Books at the Backwaters Press
Author: Jeanne Emmons
Format: Paperback, 112 pages
Published: October 2006
Critical Praise for Jeanne Emmons’ The Glove of the World
“Everything approaches through a veil, / and seems wholly beautiful,” the author of The Glove of the World informs us, and, indeed, these poems move through an elemental landscape of water and fog, coruscating shadow and indefinite light, always hopeful of a “winged and glorious” ascent. Jeanne Emmons’ impressive collection weds moments of Whitmanesque celebration and boisterous connectedness (“Oh, exquisite piss! We exist, we two, / that the whole world, both high and low, be praised.”) to an attentive quiet reminiscent of Dickinson (“I am a hollow thing, pulpy and chambered / as a wasp nest…”)—what more could anyone ask for in a marriage? What reader could resist such right and delightful invocations? The poet breaks “the surface skin / of the scaled water” to be “assumed into the cold, transparent air,” and the glove is filled.
• Gaylord Brewer
Winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award for Devilfish.
Reading this book, I’ve been sitting on Jeanne Emmons’ porch, listening to her finely constructed poems, hearing her love ring out, for being—for better or for worse—in the world, the “world beast” that “holds us close.” And for a few moments, even in brutal times, her love and observations make both reader and poet “winged and glorious.”
• Sharon Chmielarz
Author of The Rhubarb King
I have left no trace on this world I have moved through,” says Jeanne Emmons at the conclusion of one of the fine poems in The Glove of the World, and, at times, the poet seems to move lmost effortlessly—“too silver for a seam”—through her clear observations of nature. Emerson stands behind these poems like a guardian angel and, behind him, the women of myth—Ariadne, Athena, Penelope—who have woven connections for the poet between near and far, present and past. In the book’s most ambitious poem, “The Web,” Emmons presents us with a contemporary world that is terrifying in many respects yet ultimately is a place where no one is allowed to fall alone, caught gently in the web of the poet’s well-chosen words.
• R. S. Gwynn
Winner of the Breakthrough Award, University of Missouri Press, for The Drive-In.
Poems from Jeanne Emmons’ The Glove of the World
The Poetry Class at The Girl’s Club
Your swagger and sullen stare
had better be more than a steel box
whose lid springs up if you touch the button,
because inside is that small bud,
that dark, velvet self nobody should peel open
but should wait for it to bloom in its own time
in the light a person sheds on it.
That smile, those hugs and florid words,
your pearls and roses, are scattered
all over the page you write, like petals
on the church carpet after a wedding,
delicate but sad, like something trying too hard.
Sometimes the glint of a tougher, more metallic you
shines through and irks me but gives me hope
your so rose-like self may not be hailed to bruises
after all, may not be plucked bare to the hard hip.
Your brown eyes are fisted over emptiness,
and the back of your hand with its burn scars
is shiny and ridged like a relief map.
The other girls tease you for your nappy hair,
which from parted sections twists into eight braids,
stiff and pointed as Medusa’s snakes.
Your eyes are brown and so round
a person floats on their surface like Columbus.
You demand complete attention.
If I sit with you long enough,
your hand opens to lay down
on the page a diamond you could only
have made by gripping a lump of coal
in the deep, hot mineshaft of your rage.
You said you had nothing to write.
“What is in the bottom of your heart?”
I asked. And you said, “My mother.
She’s in Decatur, Illinois.”
“That’s a long way off,” I said.
And after that, your pencil moved of its own accord.
You know your brain cannot wrap around this poetry
the same way others’ do, and your tongue is
too thick for your mouth, as the words are too thick for you.
I know you know this because sometimes
your mouth opens wide and crooked around
your spaced out teeth, your wordless throat grieves in silence,
and the drops come down your face, huge and round,
like the giant letters you make, looping into words
that slide down the page and go off the edge of it,
getting smaller as they fall.
Your sober face like tanned deer hide
is deeply composed at the brow where your eyes meet.
You seek your own corner and write steadily,
page after page. You write,
“people think I am precious, but really I am vicious.”
You like the sound of the words, “precious” and “vicious.”
I know this because I also am a poet.
You told them to write what is close to them
so you write of them, the untouchables,
the love-sponges. And, because you are large
and they are small, and you are gray and they
are black-haired and yellow-haired, and you
are teacher and they are students,
they must listen when you say that they
have the words in them like spit growing
under their tongue, metallic and hot,
and the words are on their tongue, their teeth.
Say, spit. Say, Spit it out like nobody else is looking,
like you got a big chaw, like the sidewalk’s
gonna dry up and crack in the sun if you don’t.