"Jean Gallagher plunges us into the mystery-shrouded chthonic rites of Demeter and Persephone in a stunning postmodern Homeric hymn, stepping into the company of other reinventors of the ancient myths like H.D., Anne Carson, and Louise Gluck. In her haunting, spare, mystical enactments of ancient rites of loss, descent into the earth and underearth, and ecstatic return, she leaves readers like one of the initiates at Eleusis who 'came out of the mystery hall feeling like a stranger to myself.' We're ungrounded by these poems, cast among the mysteries and ecstacies: reading Start, I felt--as Gallagher's Persephone herself says--'the ground I never knew / could open did.'"
—Bruce Beasley

FIELD Poetry Series #27

Oberlin College Press



"Jean Gallagher majestically conducts a history of approaches to the sacred in Christian art, scripture, mysticism, theology. She rewrites the Bible as she re-sees the 'gravities, necessities, haphazard plots' behind the frozen sacramental moments of religious art. From Duccio to Giacometti, Thomas Aquinas to Catherine of Siena, Annunciation to Assumption, Stubborn revels in Gallagher's own 'stubborn love / for things as they seem.' In a sequence here based on a Duccio altarpiece a bewildered apostle experiences the resurrected Christ 'like a language / I don't know ... and there's never been an alphabet for it, ever.' Now--because of Jean Gallagher's splendid experiment--there is."
--Bruce Beasley

"In this intriguing and highly readable collection of poems what the poet called 'the stubborn mass of all big ideas' meets her 'stubborn love / for things as they seem.' Gallagher looks past the aesthetic dimensions of Medieval and Renaissance paintings--the subjects of the poems here--to the Biblical events they depict, and past those as well to their human meanings. She shows us how it feels for the human and the holy to interact."
--Mark Jarman

Winner of the FIELD Poetry Prize

Oberlin College Press


This Minute

This Minute is a connected whole, in which the verse is driven by strong intellectual excitement, evident in the energetic movement of the lines and in a vocabulary that switches easily from the colloquial to the exact. There is an urgent voice, felt close at hand. And there is a skill in handling and matching the size of a poem to its subject that makes each invigorating to read―one arrives slightly out of breath. These poems convey a “metaphysical” meaning as well as a bodily intimacy. They are luminous, discovering rather than manufacturing their metaphors as the most exact way of speaking.

Winner of the Poets Out Loud Prize

Fordham University Press