"The world created by Jennifer K. Sweeney in her third book of poetry, Little Spells, is a gorgeous hybrid of real and imagined, fantastic and mundane, natural and man-made. These are not necessarily juxtaposed against one another but are, rather, blended together to create a language that is at once terrifyingly dark and delicately magical."
--Reviewed By Kelsey Pratto, TAB
How to Live on Bread and Music
"Many of the poems concern the power of sound and music to enter the body—to transform and transport it—and to harness our experience of time. And Sweeney brings to her subject the imaginative craftwork of a gifted lyric poet. She seems to delight in the crystalline nature of the contemporary lyric, exploring its dense, reflective topographies without burning anything down in the process. There is no melodrama in this book, either in tone or form, nor any linguistic or structural sleights-of-hand. What fuels the work is the scrupulous honesty and keen observations Sweeney brings to her inventions, and her kinesthetic command of that humblest and most demanding instrument—the poetic line."
“Lucid, fluid, and lovely, How to Live on Bread and Music is a compendium of experiments in advancing the imagination.”
“Jennifer Sweeney’s second collection of poems is generous and sympathetic, melodic and transforming. Her playful yet incisive language, rich in imagery and metaphor, serves the larger purpose of helping us see our relationship to each other and the natural world with fresh eyes.”
“How to Live on Bread and Music is not only a volume of great range and depth, but is full of sonorous, deeply felt poems that evoke Marianne Moore’s famous adage that our best verse strive to create ‘a place for the genuine.’”
"This collection rings with thought-provoking images and the silence she employs is noticeably well-thought out. Sweeney is one of those rare poets who can take a subject and make it true. Through careful technique she brings each poem to life and the music we hear is truly inspired."
"Readers who enjoyed Salt Memory and who are interested in tracking Sweeney’s career will find much to like in How to Live on Bread and Music. However, her book should also be picked up by readers of contemporary American poetry—poetry by women, in particular. As I did in my review of Sweeney’s first volume, I reiterate my belief that she is one of the best young poets writing today, one other young poets should study as an example of the heights to which well-crafted image and form can take their own writing."
Additional Reviews in Meridian: University of Virginia, Issue 24, Main Street Rag, and Hawaii Pacific Review
"Without exception the poems in Salt Memory are rich in imagery, vision and spirit, and the transformations through which Sweeney takes her readers are astounding, nearly religious, and ultimately unforgettable."
"Jennifer K. Sweeney not only collects the details, she has the deftest of touches in choosing and introducing them into her poetry. Her first poetry collection is awash in gorgeous observation and leaps of imagery. She is a teller of gentle truths and a gifted sharer of epiphanies."
--Reviewed by Jim Natal, Poetry International
Fill in the Blanks Interview, August 10, 2015. "If I ran away to join the circus, my role would be elephant whisperer, floating mime, dark star cannon-shot." Tinderbox Editions Book Interview: Little Spells July 27, 2015. "Little Spells explores the paradoxes of fertility from the circle of self to a larger study on restraint, the creative force, not-being, and bounty making. It is both a personal and an existential meditation, calling upon myths, folklore, fairytales, and natural phenomena to explore the scope of what slim margins all life leans on, what rough spark we depend on every day to keep going. Much has been written on the ‘gates of death’ but perhaps less on what guards the ‘gates of life,’ and this collection is most concerned with threshold, potential, conjuring, from many different entry points to speak more universally about how we become and how we endure a stalled narrative. It is the poetry of dark beginnings, of waiting, being suspended at the crossing; the work of everyday magic, loss, and bounty." Rob McLennan's 12 or 20 Series, February 17, 2015 Poetry is the room with all the doors and windows. It propels me forward. It is a way of thinking and integrating and deepening and drawing myself closer to “the family of things.” Apercus Quarterly, 2.3, Winter 2013 "I was led in quietly, a fragmented nudge into egg as both artist and art object. Then came nest, clock, hollow, return, thought, source." Esrar, Poetry Journal of Turkey, Issue 3, Spring 2010. Poet of the Month February 2010. "To begin is to be held by a word—cochlea, photon, scimitar—and the word becomes a door through which I might enter, the mind settles and loses itself into the task, the senses unfurl, and sometimes it is a practice, sometimes a poem."
“Jennifer K. Sweeney Interviewed by Suzanne Baldwin Leitner.” Main Street Rag: Charlotte, NC, Vol. 12, Number 1, Spring 2007
“Out of Our Minds: Interview and Reading with Jennifer Sweeney” Interview by J.P. Dancing Bear. KKUP Radio: Cupertino, CA, Dec. 13, 2006.