Jill Alexander Essbaum (once described as “a cross between
Dorothy Parker and a lap dance”) is fast becoming known for her brilliantly
sexy poems best represented in Harlot, her 2007 collection from No Tell Books, the cover of which depicts a nude woman embracing a phallus nearly twice her
height. What I also love about her poems,
however, is the intelligence behind them (“heady” as Molly Arden cheekily
describes), her attention both to the traditions and possibilities of form that
bring poetry’s notions of “traditional” and “experimental” into a head-on
collision. In addition, I hereby
nominate Jill (well, along with, in a different way, Heidi Lynn Staples) as contemporary
poetry’s best punster, a skill evidenced within “Triptych,” which originally
appeared in Coconut Eight. (My nomination is another opportunity for you
to agree or disagree with me, O Reader, by posting your own choices!) & on top of all, there’s the theme, to
quote H. L. Hix, of “religion as sex and sex as religion” swimming through her
work. Twice I’ve had the opportunity to
hear Jill read, which is also a treat — she has memorized all of her poems (while
I can’t even seem to remember my own first lines!!). So my advice to you, Charming Reader, is to
invite Jill to read in your own hometown! Or at least buy all of her books, which also include Heaven (Winner of the Bakeless Prize,
2000), Oh Forbidden (2005), Necropolis (2008), and an appearance in
2008’s The Best American Erotic Poems. Her website is here.
-- Bruce Covey
I let go my dress in his temple, devoutly.
I brought to him butters in lordly dishes.
He spread my legs like rumor, word-of-mouthly.
Tears have a talent for falling.
That is their calling.
I have folded my edges.
I've serged and I have pinked.
I have finished my seams.
So it would seem.
-- Jill Alexander Essbaum