"Jennifer Bates' inaugural book of poems introduces a skillful young poet who already possesses a distinctive style and a wide range of themes. . . . Her language is taut, tense, and gritty, with many stunning phrases and sharply perceived images. The world of emotional dangers and challenges is seen from a sensual female perspective, and yet, happily, there is no ideological or argumentative edge to her writing; the poems are deeply felt and speak to everyone."--Robert Pack
In this striking first collection Jennifer Bates writes about the nature of womanhood through the story of Eve and the condition of her Fall. Bates shifts between poems which speak though powerful female figures of myth and religious history to poems in a personal, contemporary voice that confront sexual violence, miscarriage, and mental illness.
Her exploration begins with "The Teresa Poems," in which she enters the life of the 16th-century Spanish mystic St. Teresa of Avila and discovers a movement from health and stability to illness, desolation, and finally resurrection; it continues in "From Fire by Fire," in which an anonymous modern woman recounts her breakdown, madness, and renewal. From the tense mood of impending doom in "Waiting for the Hurricane" to a final acceptance of what life might mean when it's lived with the knowledge of good and evil, in "The Deaf Horses," the poems describe ecstasy, despair, and, finally, the most complicated emotional landscape, ordinary life.
While writing of this intensity will have special resonance for those who have faced similar experiences, it is also finely crafted poetry that transcends its subject matter and offers healing to everyone "beyond the Garden's walls."
Jennifer Bates, an MFA student at Emerson College, has also written a novel. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.