Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jenni Fallein, poet, painter, writing teacher, and yoga instructor

Although you can't see it on the front of the book (hear that story during tonight's program), the title of Jenni Fallein's first collection of poems is If Beauty Were a Spy.

Here are some comments about the collection:

"Just a few poems into If Beauty Were a Spy, I was thinking, how is Jenni Fallein doing this? The poems seem to thoroughly engaged in their compassion yet so necessarily detached in their irony, even when they're literally looking inside a mother's heart. I don't think anyone could be taught to write poems like these, the way they're profound, funny, informed, raw, elegant, compassionate, sardonic, and/or spiritual--all at once: The afterlife thing hides like a big dust bunny under the bed. Pedometers taunt, tempt and deceive like lovers. Reality TV meets the bedsores and sponge baths of terminal care for dying mothers. The body stripped of its skin and innards is 'all muscle and bone/exquisite.' The same goes for these poems. They're wonderful."

-- Greg Keeler, poet, professor, and author of Trash Fish: A Life

"Reading Jenni Fallein is like talking to a friend, a friend who is funny and irreverent, with a fondness for puns, and who has also taken as her calling a vocation of care. The hear of this book is about caretaking: of people and of plants, i.e. the garden, acts of hospice and hospitality and humility toward the world both global and immediate. She is not sentimental. She is not afraid of pain. Plain-spoken, sarcastic, but capable of exaltation, she celebrates 'the crazy chance to walk around in a body' at the same time as she is gutsy enough to title a poem 'I Hate Death.'

-- poet Melissa Kwasny, author of Reading Novalis in Montana

"Fallein consistently reaches a very fine pitch in her work. Consider the closing stanza of her title poem, "If Beauty Were a Spy" ... In this fancy, the female spy 'working for the CIA' is likened to pink morning glory at dawn, winding around and above any surfaces 'her fingers' meet. Fallein rises with her conceit:

in her final glory
days before the Equinox
she infiltrates
the bamboo chimes
event he wind

"I am left nearly breathless at her poise and control--a pitch she reaches in many moments in If Beauty Were a Spy."

-- O. Alan Weltzien,  poet, professor, and author of A Father and an Island: Reflections on Loss

Hear Chérie Newman's interview with Jenni Fallein Thursday evening at 6:30 ( or 7:30 ( Or listen by subscribing to The Write Question podcast.

More information about Jenni Fallein and If Beauty Were a Spy.

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