Poetry. California Interest. Poetry exists in the play of language, and the earnest playfulness in Jackie Berger's new collection begins in her title, where she speaks of "missing" an exit along life's metaphorical highway, a word with two meanings that both loom large in this work. In one sense this is the "road not taken," and in the title poem Berger imagines a very different life she might have lead: "Stop in a small town for lunch / or the rest of your life, / who would you be here?" It is theme to which she returns in more than one poem here, as in the aptly titled "My Other Life." But we also "miss" those roads we can no longer travel, the exits that no longer lead anywhere we could return, and in that sense much of this collections serves as elegy for her parents, but also for lost friends from schooldays, old television shows, even for dying palm trees in Los Angeles. In a way this collection functions as the "Death Museum" she visits in one poem; and she reminds us that we are all "Feeding the Worms", "...with our bodies, / waiting to return to our beds." But for all that, this is not a morbid work. If it is wistful, it is also wishful. At the "Day of Atonement" that closes the collection, she bids "God, scrawl us in the book / of stumble, stutter, fail, / its multi-volumes, / anthology of near misses, of winging it, / collected works of lucky guesses, / hard knocks...." Missing, Berger tells us, is what we do. And if we can't go back, we can always go on.
Jacqueline Berger is the author of THE DAY YOU MISS YOUR EXIST (Broadstone Books, 2018), The Mythologies of Danger, winner of the Bluestem Poetry Prize, Things That Burn, winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize, and The Gift That Arrives Broken, which won the Autumn House Poetry Prize. Her poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor's Writers Almanac. She is a professor of English and directs the graduate program at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA. A native of Los Angeles, Jacqueline lives in San Francisco with her husband.Author City: SAN FRANCISCO, CA USA