“The landscape, the family, the incidental characters that enter both books have this fantastically grounded reality where you doubt and believe their existences at the same time.”
Available in print.
Jane Springer’s first book, Dear Blackbird, won the Agha Shaid Ali prize (University of Utah Press, 2007). Her other awards include an AWP Intro Prize, the Robert Penn Warren Prize for Poetry, an NEA grant, and a Whiting Award. She received her Ph.D. from Florida State University in 2008 and now teaches poetry at Hamilton College, in upstate, New York, where she lives with her husband, John Powell, their son Morrison, and their two dogs, Walter Woofus and Georgia. Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from such places as Fugue, The Oxford American, and The Southern Review.
“[Murder Ballad is] ripe with all the textures of bayous, swamp cypress, underwater muck, and the ‘damp implosion of woodscent.'”
—New Orleans Review
“Not since I read James Agee’s A Death in the Family have I been so compelled to stare into the eyeballs of chiggers and mildew. Jane Springer is on a thin reed in the present moment reciting incantatory poems. May I plainly say, ‘What a goddamn beautiful book this is.'”
“I have a feeling Jane Springer met the devil at the crossroads. There’s not a note she can’t pluck, and the music is like no one else’s: rich as the red clay of Georgia, startling as a raccoon’s bite, ‘crazy as a shithouse rat’ and cool as sweet tea on a sultry afternoon. There’s some nittygritty here, hauled up from the freezer chest on the porch, unearthed like a mastodon that’s been buried far longer than we can imagine. And there is tremendous vitality and sublimity in this ‘dark county of the heart’ where her music comes from. Whatever devilish bargain has been struck, it has been a boon to all parties. Hallelujah for us all.”
“Jane Springer’s poems are dazzling, devastating and utterly original—sound-rich, sensual, sensational—you will be carried away.”
—Naomi Shihab Nye
“. . .a fine spin of thought. . . . a strong pick for American literary poetry collections.”
—Midwest Book Review
“. . .masterful in its depiction of the sensuality and brutality of the American South. . . . These are poems that face the darkness that abounds in everyday life, they express a love of the colloquial, and they give us glimpses of humor and irony.”
“[Murder Ballad] is a tangled ode to the South, filled with coon stew, frog guts, pig shit, the violence of rape, slavery, and regret. Springer wrote it with the deep, sisterly love of a drunken, wayward brother she knows better than anyone.”
“Traversing the despair of the rural south, Springer exploits the urgency and dread of every keening murder ballad, showing how that cleaving is both our undoing and our salvation.”
“Springer shows time and again that this music is an inheritance, the murder ballad that dwells in ‘the dark county of the heart,’ and her poems hold the tension of wanting ‘to erase the ancient, violent beauty / in the devil of not loving what we love.'”
More by Jane Springer: