POETRY

Advance praise for EXCLUSIONS & LIMITATIONS, forthcoming October 1st from Plume Editions/MadHat Press:

"Underneath and sometimes literally between O’Grady’s assured and subtly measured lines lurk dangers and “damages that may not be covered.” Our lives are not conceived with warranties, and this poet views seemingly benign moments—a game of handball, a school bus departing, snapping a child’s photo—with a keen maternal prescience that exposes them as fraught with foreboding. Moving edgily from catastrophe to the mysteriousness of love itself, O’Grady shows how to bear the unknowable and carry on in the midst of warnings in poems as classic as Cassandra and as contemporary as today’s headlines. " --Jeanne Marie Beaumont

"Jennifer O’Grady’s Exclusions & Limitations conjures the sort of dream world that follows you after you’re awake. The speaker herself is numinous, recounting desire and its cost from some inevitable Purgatory. The collection’s controlling metaphor is the mixed blessing of the Annunciation: “She will always be / at a disadvantage, needing proof, / needing pain to make everything / clear, and even the life / already growing inside her / is unbelievable, until it nearly / tears her apart.” The carefully wrought sonic texture, the range of styles from prose poem to lyric, narrative to alliterative abecedarian induces an orchestral intensity. This is a book that refuses to go away after it’s been placed back on the shelf. --John Hoppenthaler

"Always lyrically animated, the clear often-elegiac note struck in these poems signals O’Grady’s wakefulness to the shifting light and shade of things. O’Grady’s exact, exacting language is always up to her descriptive, meditative task, while able also to bring to life a narrative-laden feminist landscape—familiar, mysterious, politically alert—as in the repeated evocation of famous painted Annunciations. Excavating moments in marriage and motherhood, she can also move to moments of prayer, the kind of courageous prayer these poems deserve: sharp-sighted, probing and pondering the ordinary adventure of life and its extraordinary hunger for what is to be loved, what is to survive: to find “gain not loss,” even in what in any family is always passing." --Eamon Grennan

"What is clear in Jennifer O’Grady’s daring second book of poems is that there are no limitations to this poet’s imagination. Whether examining the most seemingly minuscule detritus – broken glass in a parking lot, or “a wind-stripped twig” in the mud – to the furthest universe (“the star in her bathroom mirror”) and contemplation of mankind’s gravest sins, O’Grady finds material. It is in the study of childhood aptitude for detachment. It is in the storm-torn pear tree, the alphabet, the garden in which she admires wildflowers with her mother. It is in back pages of the newspaper and the warrantee for a household appliance. O’Grady demonstrates the most admirable poetic dimensionality and ingenuity —breadth and depth, intellectual edge—with grace and levity to boot. Herein, find wonderment and horror entangling with wit and curiosity. Exclusions & Limitations is a grand poetic performance of a bright mind and marvelous, fine-tuned heart. --Elizabeth Cohen, Associate Professor of English at SUNY Plattsburgh and author of Bird Light, The Family on Beartown Road and other books


Praise for WHITE (winner of the Mid-List Press First Series Award for Poetry):


Jennifer O'Grady, poet, playwright, author of WHITE
"Jennifer O’Grady’s first collection deservedly won the Mid-List First Series Award for Poetry. It is a slim volume, which reveals a wide range of interests and perspectives of her writer’s universe. She moves easily from the work of the “Moths” with their “curious filaments” and their ability to leave woolens “full of missing pieces” to subjects such as “Susannah and the Elders” (reference to a painting by Gentileschi), in which she speaks of “anguish dressed in baroque repose” and explores the projected emotions of a woman with a rape in her past as she watches the moment of decision in Susannah’s eternal present. It is this pattern of juxtaposing one view against another or of turning one way of thinking into its opposite—or at least its “other”—which makes her mark.

Readers will also enjoy several short lyric pieces rich with extended metaphor. An example is “Port of Call” in which she observes, “How very long it’s taken to unload/the sharp black freight of the heart.” Various art forms live in many of these poems, from painting to opera, but so do such diverse subjects as astronomy, surrealism and the blue herons—though even the herons remind her of 'angels in Renaissance paintings.'

In White there is glittering intelligence focused often on the way art reflects the workings of the heart."Anne Marie Oomen, ForeWord

"I love the mixture of edginess and calm that marks these poems, how their richness of texture and color is married to a compelling immediacy of address, how their lyrical impulse sustains itself in the grip of difficult memories...Jennifer O'Grady's language reveals a speaking consciousness at ease among the split-level dimensions of its own exacting and alert awareness.—Eamon Grennan

Purchase White here.


Select Poetry Links 

Listen to Garrison Keillor read Jennifer's poem “Moths” on The Writer's Almanac here.

Read "Moths," Habitation," "Illuminated Page," and "The Surrealist Learns to Fly," all published in Poetry and collected in White, here.

Read "How to Clean Practically Anything" on Poetry Daily here.

Read "All Souls," "Annunciation," "The Annunciation According to Tissot," and "Exclusions and Limitations" in Connotation Press: An Online Artifact here.

Read "Fireflies" in Plume here and "Visitors" in Plume here.

Read "Anniversary" in One here.

Select Poetry Anthologies (for a complete listing see the "Publication Links" page of this website)

"Poem for the Womb," "Anonymous Wedding Photo," and "Buster's Last Hand" are in American Poetry: The Next Generation (Carnegie-Mellon University Press).











"The Miraculous Draught of Fishes" and "Blue Heron" are in The Book of Irish-American Poetry (University of Notre Dame Press).