Books by Jennifer K. Sweeney
"Like the potter who waits with native clay/ in her hands/ consulting the mystery, Jennifer K. Sweeney's poems are patient and expectant, brooding and ready for the moment when the invisible shows itself in this life. Pigeons nest in unplanted dirt like cloudy flowers; a Buddha candle melting is a child stepping out of his pants. These poems are lit by the constant, inevitable transformation that happens at the faultline of image sliding over image, thought over being, word over word. Throughout--attentive, enthralled, unflinching, utterly fresh--this unforgettable lyric voice is tuned to the ache-edge of our species. A gorgeous debut."
Praise for Jennifer's third book published Spring 2015 from
“I am not normally moved by perfection, since I like a little mess in poetry, but when a book achieves the trifecta of truly beautiful balance—precise observation, uncannily accurate words, wildness and depth of heart—it must as close to perfect as our weird and glorious art can get. Sweeney understands how the profound and the miniscule are interconstitutive qualities of souls and objects in a universe (“Dwarf star with one eye on the moon”) and this exploration is inner as well as visible, external. Throughout the book, the speaker is concerned with the continuum of life: from stones and plants and planets, to finches and fire, on to witches and princesses and she honors each form it takes. But at some point, this study of life gives way to the song of one who is heartbroken on the path to creating life. This voice sings and cries in such exquisite expression of anguish that art and life find themselves gazing at each other in shock. What good is perfection when the most precious and longed-for star—the one that guided the years— vanishes from the huge dark sky? Art remains and perhaps it comforts as it triumphs here. Sweeney is dazzling—if that matters. I think it does. I am abnormally moved by the perfection of this art. I am crushed by it.”
“Perhaps the physical and metaphysical are most perfectly one in a woman’s desire to have a child. Jennifer K. Sweeney’s Little Spells makes a stunningly powerful lyric journey into the realm of this desire in poems that engage language, image, myth, medicine, fairy tale and potion as tickets to the depths. She is a poet wooed by the abstraction of transformation and she finds for it a local habitation in the figure of the egg: chicken, ostrich, loon, rotten and that most remarkable totem of all, the human egg as the source of us all. At the level of image, line and vision, this book resounds with ‘the terrible artistry of so fierce a care.’”
—Alison Hawthorne Deming
Selected for inclusion in The Pushcart Prize XXXV: Best of the Small Presses
“Jennifer K. Sweeney’s How to Live on Bread and Music is a remarkable achievement from the hand of a poet with a subtle and compassionate mindfulness. These are poems that tell us we move forward in moments when motion seems all too risky and stillness all too intolerable. Adept at the delicate project of inventiveness in the line, she shows us time and again that language is the matter of the poet and that there is surprise in the gift, as this book is sure evidence of the gift.”
—Afaa Michael Weaver, James Laughlin Award judge.
Poetry, Prose, and Audio Selections
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BROADSIDES, CHAPBOOKS, MORE
Meridian Press: How to Live on Bread and Music, limited edition broadside
The Offending Adam: “Old Town Square” for limited edition chapvelope.
Proem Press: “New Contemporary Poets” anthology, April 2010.