Pelvis with Distance

Jessica Jacobs. White Pine (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-935210-66-5
In this detailed, raptly lyrical debut collection, Jacobs mixes scenes from the life and letters of Georgia O'Keeffe—alone and alongside her husband, Alfred Steiglitz—with the poet's own present-day responses to the great painter. "Construct meals with a life-raft eye. Go to bed before full dark," Jacobs advises herself, writing "a letter to the poet I cannot finish." In Jacobs's account, Steiglitz, a photographer, tells O'Keeffe, "Look/ closely and you will see// the self I want you to be." Her long, admiring, well-researched examination of a woman very used to being looked at switches with ease among points of view, while paying homage to O'Keeffe's passion for solitude and her independent eye. In a project constructed as a set of short poems, each keyed to one moment, Jacobs finds ways to vary her pace and her forms, from very short lines to thick prose paragraphs: her tones, however pursue a rapt, observant constancy. This work should delight the painter's many fans, and its sentences evoke her paintings' beauty. At the same time, though, it's hard to know how much Jacobs's labor adds, either to the trove of ways to think about this particular painter, or to the set of modes in which earlier poets have told the story of somebody's life. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/04/2015
Release date: 03/01/2015
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