Edith Jacobson Begins to Fly

“I admire Edith Jacobson rising over her known world, ‘the slinky, licorice roads/tying it all together…’ She is Everywoman articulating our dreads and daring in these often stunning poems.”
–Maxine Kumin
Pulitzer Prize winner, poetry activist

Review of Edith Jacobson Begins to Fly by Fred Eckman in Minneapolis Star Tribune:

A biographical note tells us that Zontelli, a native of northern Minnesota,has spent most of her life as a visual artist. For someone fairly new to poetry, she is remarkably skilled. Much of this skill, I suspect, comes from her ability to transfer the artist’s vision to the poet’s.

The book’s title and first section use a familiar but sturdy figure (flying = new perspective = freedom) in a 15-poem sequence about a middle-aged, middle-class, Midwestern housewife as she embarks on a new life, launched by a divorce. A series of panels rather than a traditional narrative, the sequence moves Edith from depression through apprehension and exaltation, finally to an awareness that she must go back to life on the ground – but wiser, calmer and happier as a result of her flying. One poem (“Edith in Her Element”) contains the best simile I’ve seen in years: a bald eagle is as “confident as a Cadillac.”

Sections II and III contain poems where the poet speaks mainly in her own person: about childhood and relatives about marriage about daily household life. Though most of them give us a rather grim view of her world they are marvelously free of self-pity or special pleading. Of he deaths of aged parents she observes: “They think we don’t need them anymore/so they are quietly departing this world/ through black slits in night skies/ or as dust motes rising to the sun.” This first book is wise, often humorous and always well written.

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