An unflinching new collection from poet, Jenny Irish, in which cultural violence against women is explored through various personae.
At the heart of all violence is fear: Lupine is a gathering of feminist prose poetry engaging themes of ecology, animality, and the human unknown. A series of interconnected dramatic monologues, the poems inhabit the personae of figures traditionally deemed Monstrous, giving them voice to confront and reclaim the violent mythologies that have so often been imposed upon them. As these unmuzzled monsters speak, the collection collapses the boundaries between the self and the subjugated other, ultimately upending the discourse of monstrosity itself. By exposing how women are villainized and sacrificed in response to cultural fear, Lupine offers a corrective to social narratives in which notions of the bestial and notions of the feminine are intimately entwined.
“A fang concealed inside a flower, Lupine has a mythological sense of ecopoetics, one in which nature is often vindicated, in all its mossy, sinewy, animal luster, for the violence we as humans have enacted upon it. Jenny Irish has an unflinching eye, interrogating ‘spectacle and specimen,’ wielding a mirror against cruel and patriarchal abuses of power. This language of survival drips with ‘darkness as she welcomes herself in’ to reconsider what has traditionally been called wicked, or monstrous, or other. Challenging our preconceived notions of narrative, Irish lets wildness pulse against the edges of her sentences, ‘obscene up close,’ but ‘all a-light’—the reader is left dazzled, transformed.” —Jenny Molberg, author of Refusal
“Lupine is a rare feat of a chapbook, in which the poet Jenny Irish dawns the masks of so many monsters to tell us vividly how our culture fails women. From shadows, we make stories” our speaker reminds us, and Irish shows us how the object casting the shadow is often the haphazard negligence we regard each other with. This book is a bestiary of deep lyric knowing, from the first poem to the closing, immaculate question that makes Lupine’s final line, what we’re given is a chorus of beasts we can’t help but think look like us.” —C.T. Salazar, author of Headless John the Baptist Hitchhiking
“Just like the botanical ferocity that accompanies its title, Lupine by Jenny Irish cracks the fangs from the aggressor, reveling in a primitive magic where women confront and disrupt their default historical fates. A delightfully dark examination of fear, and interrogation of the cautionary tale, Irish’s collection offers advice that resonates from deep past into contemporary life. For example, in “Harpy,” we are told, ‘Girl-child, if you must hate yourself, let it be for lack of talent rather than the body your soul inherited,’ while in ‘Witch’ we hear, ‘A good girl keeps her mouth shut, and a bad girl gets the sound smacked out, and a smart girl knows she will be punished either way.’ Resplendent with magnificent animals, abundant flora, and unforgettable voices, Lupine is a showcase of the dramatic monologue at its wicked best.” —Mary Biddinger, author of Department of Elegy
Poetry. Women's Studies.
Jenny Irish is from Maine and lives in Arizona. She is the author of the hybrid collections COMMON ANCESTOR and Tooth Box, and the short story collection I AM FAITHFUL. She teaches creative writing at Arizona State University and facilitates free community workshops every summer.