Jennifer Rose Poetry

Hometown for an Hour

Winner of the Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry and the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize

In her second collection of poems, Jennifer Rose writes primarily of places and displacement. Using the postcard’s conventions of brevity, immediacy, and, in some instances, humor, these poems are greetings from destinations as disparate as Cape Cod, Kentuckiana, and Croatia. Rich in imagery, deftly crafted, and imbued with a lightness of voice, these poems are also postmarked from poetry’s more familiar provinces of love, nature, and loss.

Chosen from hundreds of submissions, Hometown for an Hour is the winner of the ninth Hollis Summers Poetry Prize. As final judge David Yezzi wrote:

“Jennifer Rose’s ‘postcards’ arrive with news of a world receding—but for her evocative communiqués—rapidly into the past. The poems serve to fix in time her transient locales, revealing not remote tourist destinations but the very places where the poet has been most alive. Rose’s odd assortment of places, she tells us, have seduced her, just as reading her poems, with their elegant and muscular formal excellence, will most certainly seduce readers. Tempering nostalgia with wit and emotional immediacy with consummate musicianship and craft, these poems reconstruct a world that, in Rose’s fine imagining of it, becomes not only hers but ours as well.”

“Jennifer Rose has an impressive flair for whimsical metaphor in scenic description—fiddler crabs at high tide like a marching band at a rained-out game, ‘the soggy field in disarray, each heavy claw // a tuba that can’t be put away’—and somewhere behind this abundance, yearning and grief warily peek forth.”—Mark Halliday

“Affecting. . . bone-chilling.” —New York Times Book Review

“What is home? Rose asks that question from many perspectives in this intriguing collection of poems. As mobile as any American, she finds herself in various versions of ‘nowhere in particular,’ where she wonders whether she’s a fool ‘to think love and towns like this should last / forever,’ but where she envisions so clearly the lives she will never lead. Her theme is change, both internal and external, and the way the latter illustrates the former. Although linguistically direct and uncomplicated, Rose’s poems are marked by the attention paid in them to the natural world, which is signaled by her consistent use of personification. She doesn’t so much bring her landscapes alive as reveals them as already being alive. From unknown downtowns in Kentucky to graveyards in Bosnia, Rose asks how we know our humanity through place and time. In probing her own past and dreamed futures, she connects to the pasts and futures of distant and unknown others.” —Booklist

“Rose’s evocative second collection is preoccupied with place. An urban planner by profession, she is particularly moved by the ways that American towns and cities reflect both the people who occupy them and a specific era, though her most moving poems explore these issues from a personal perspective. Most of the poems in Hometown for an Hour, David Yezzi’s selection for the 2005 Hollis Summers Prize, are conceived as postcards. . . defined by their locale but also, inevitably, by time: either a visit’s transient moment, the larger sweep of history, or a memory evoked by landscape or location. . . . Too restless to settle in small-town America, yet repeatedly drawn to its community and landscapes, Rose shows herself both self-aware and gently self-deprecating as she explores what it means to love a place not truly her own. . . . In a number of poems, Rose envisions an alternate life ‘like the one where I run the public library, / the one in which my mother hadn’t died, // and one in the last century where I was / (can you imagine it?) the haberdasher’s bride.’. . . That Rose can imagine it—indeed, is compelled to imagine it—arises partly from the grief she carries despite her poems’ light grace. . . . [I]ndeed, Hometown for an Hour’s distinctive, elegiac voice is both quietly reflective and endlessly inventive.” —The Antioch Review

“A master of iambic speech rhythms, Rose brings a cadenced intimacy to her colloquial communiqués. Her sly wit and ear for satisfying rhymes and slant rhymes lend these poems a nimble brightness, even as they take on personal sorrow and historical tragedy.” —Women’s Review of Books

“Autobiographical elements lend tremendous emotional depth to the collection. . . . The power of this volume resides in small moments of perspective, revelation, and self-realization.” The Bloomsbury Review

Click to hear a review from WPSU.


Hometown for an Hour

Price: $12.95 paper/$24.95 cloth/$7.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-0-8214-1655-3 cloth
978-0-8214-1656-1 paper
978-0-8214-4195-4 electronic
Pages: 72
Format: 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Publisher: Ohio University Press
Publication Date: 2006

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