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Stateside: Poems Paperback – March 29, 2010
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From the Back Cover
In Jehanne Dubrow's Stateside, the formalities of structure--rhyme and meter--play against the formalities imposed upon the life of a military wife. There are poems in marching meters and poems that provide counterpoint to those rhythms, but, most of all, hers is a fully experienced suite, fully composed in every sense of that word, both intimate and public, an accomplished book. She is a contemporary Penelope whose tale is epic. --Sam Hamill
About the Author
Jehanne Dubrow is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Stateside (TriQuarterly, 2010). Her work has appeared in The New Republic, Poetry, Ploughshares, The New England Review, and Prairie Schooner. She is an assistant professor of creative writing and literature at Washington College, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
Top customer reviews
The collection's forty-three poems are divided into three loosely chronological sections. Part I precedes the husband's departure. The wife experiences anxiety over the coming separation and her husband's safety. The poems in Part II focus on Homer's Penelope, the traditional model of a military wife left behind by her husband in time of war. But this is a Penelope transported into modern times. The speaker imagines Penelope, identifies with her, and speaks for her. The poems in Part III occur after the husband's return. Now the wife must become wife again. The marriage is strained by the effects of war and the long separation.
Stateside is both a delicate and a forceful collection. The story rings familiar, but is told anew. The poems are beautifully and skillfully written. Dubrow has a remarkable facility with forms. They are handled with such deftness and grace that the reader is barely aware of their presence. This collection simultaneously satisfies the reader's intellect and pierces the heart.
But Penelope is not the antiquated Penelope of The Odyssey alone, but a contemporary metaphor for and lyrical chronicle of military life for wives who remain while their loves are deployed elsewhere and when together again, how the couple traverses those distances created by time apart, by promise of future separation, and by fear of death, as Dubrow writes, "We're arguing about his death again." But these are navigatable waters, for Dubrow offers readers poems such as "A Short Study of Catastrophe," "Instructions for Other Penelopes," and "On the Erotics of Deployment."
In Stateside, one is "hardly a ship lost in the storm."
The book has three sections, which are roughly divided into before, during, and after the deployment. In the first section, Dubrow catalogues the fears, dreams, and preparations before her husband's departure. In the nightmarish sonnet "Against War Movies" she runs through all the war movies she has seen, imagining that she sees her husband in every character who is killed: "Each movie is a training exercise, / a scenario for how my husband dies." In the second section, Dubrow uses The Odyssey as a lens for viewing her life while her husband is gone, but this Penelope diets, gets a new haircut, fends off passes from divorcés, walks the dog Argos, takes Telemachus to the mall. Both of the first two sections are highly effective, but my favorite is the third section, which faces up unblinkingly to the difficulties of re-entry after a long absence, each spouse newly awkward around the other.
The feelings are both raw and nuanced in these poems, and Dubrow's technical mastery of the wide variety of forms--blank verse, rhymed quatrains, triplets, couplets, sonnets, nonce forms--acts as a sort of protective gear for handling potentially explosive emotions. Her approach to form is flexible, often using loose rhythms and slant rhymes. Thought and feeling do not cancel each other out in the poems, but pull against each other with a tension that also creates a bridge