Jennifer Reeser is the author of four full-length poetry collections. Former editor of The Paris Review, X. J. Kennedy, wrote that her debut collection, An Alabaster Flask, (winner of the Word Press First Book Prize), “ought to have been a candidate for a Pulitzer.” Her third book, Sonnets from the Dark Lady and Other Poems, was a finalist for the Donald Justice Prize. Her most recent title, The Lalaurie Horror, has remained an Amazon bestseller in the category of epic poetry since its release in September of 2013. Her poems, critical essays, and translations of French and Russian literature have appeared nationally, internationally, and in Internet venues such as POETRY, The National Review, Able Muse, The Hudson Review, Light Quarterly, Unsplendid and Louisiana Literature. Her writing has appeared in numerous anthologies, including Longman’s college textbook, An Introduction to Literature, edited by Dana Gioia and X.J. Kennedy, and Poets Translate Poets: A Hudson Review Anthology. Her work is mandatory reading in state universities, writing programs and high schools across the United States. She has received awards in writing from Pulitzer Prize winning author, Robert Olen Butler, from former Poetry Society of America Vice-President, Director of The World Order of Narrative and Formalist Poets, Doctor Alfred Dorn, and from The Lyric magazine. She is the former assistant editor of Iambs and Trochees. Her translations of the Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova, are authorized by the FTM Agency, Moscow. She is a mentor with the West Chester Poetry Conference, the largest annual convention on poetry in the United States. She lives amid the bayous of southern Louisiana with her husband and children. Her website is found at www.jenniferreeser.com
NOTE: The poem “The Sweet One” was written during the “Literature and Art of Cinema Workshop” held at the 2014 Silent River Film Festival. The poem was inspired by the short film Rainy Season, which screened at the Silent River Film Festival 2014 in Irvine, California. The film tells the story of one family’s change of fate in post-war Vietnam.
The Sweet One
He was the sweet one. “Friday, he was here with me,
Gone Saturday,” she weeps, before the day was done.
Grasshopper-hunter, fisher child, her youngest one
Who sleeps beneath the earth – first buried, last of three.
He bundled sticks for her, beneath the rubber tree,
And brought a remnant bomb from fields where cattle run,
And failed to wake or answer when she wailed, “My son!”
The smoke’s confused pollution poisoning her plea.
No more a chief’s great woman, but the grave’s new wife,
She – fresh fatality from an archaic war
Which knows no borders, never ends, and needs a fence –
Grieves on and on, an innocent and pilfered life,
For nothing ever will, nor ever can, restore
What devastation takes, through dying innocence.
NOTE: The prose poem “Marilyn” was written during the “Literature and Art of Cinema Workshop” held at the 2014 Silent River Film Festival. The poem was inspired by the short film Story of M, which screened at the Silent River Film Festival 2014 in Irvine, California. The Story of M is about a girl who dreams of being Marilyn Monroe. The film is directed and written by Anna Arlanova.
Love Me Madly
When I was a child, my mother teased my fine, flat hair,
Wanting a bubbly blonde, a bombshell movie star –
One who could conquer Stalin, and possess the czar,
“Wow” in the worst ushanka ever made, and wear
Anything, anything at all, to anywhere.
You, in this dressing room – I don’t know who you are.
Something about you bothers me, in truth. Bizarre,
I know – though something seems sweet and noble, too. I swear!
All of this baggage that I carry serves me badly.
What is the sense of all this world, if not to pose?
You, with your camera, Russian warmth, and boyish charm,
Acting as though you understood and love me madly –
Me, in naivety, and California clothes,
Hurrying to my hall rehearsal, far from harm.