The Jolt: Twenty-One Love Poems in Homage to Adrienne Rich
After exchanging an ardent glance on a morning commuter train, two strangers disembark at the next station. Thus begins The Jolt: Twenty-One Love Poems in Homage to Adrienne Rich, a modern-day romance in which the narrator, a drifter seeking to reinvent herself on foreign soil, uses spare, captivating verse to contemplate her burgeoning love affair with a woman who, through the most serendipitous of accidents, knocks her “off the track of [her] life.”
Like a lover's “frenzied hands,” these poems, born of both personal experience and a striking imagination, undress every inch of our senses, from buttered croissant to rippled breath to a busker's soulful song. But the author's work is not a mere outpouring of passion. Weiss has deftly crafted her images to echo the bold and exquisite love poems written by her lifelong idol, Adrienne Rich.
The Jolt is much more than a book. It's a perfumed envelope sealed with a kiss, which, once opened, reveals a letter of adoration addressed at once to the narrator's lover, the author's wife, the art of poetry, and to the legendary poet who inspired these twenty-one poems that aim to celebrate the beauty and resilience of lesbian love.
The Places We Empty
In Julie Weiss’s poems, the speaker is haunted by “the apocalypse that threatens / to sweep across my imagination.” Her poems are filled with people living in an epidemic-ravaged world, people who are disappearing, escaping, searching, desiring, loving. It’s a world where women’s bodies, queer bodies, black and brown bodies, are disciplined and punished. “We’re lucky to be alive,” she says. And yet “alive” these poems are, crying out with powerfully beautiful language.
─Kate Evans, author of Call It Wonder and Target
In this searing collection, Weiss asks “What good is poetry when all it can do is kneel on a piece of paper and wail?” Her poems push hard against this question, giving voice and depth to the darkest places embodied in each of us, in our history, and in our culture. These poems are a reckoning. They exhume and sing griefs and traumas with such skill that they are both moan and a call to action, slicing into the reader “like an elegant blade.”
─Megan Merchant, author of Before the Fevered Snow (Stillhouse Press, 2020)
In Julie Weiss’s intimate and powerful debut collection, she asks us in a myriad of ways, “what good is poetry?” Her poems provide an answer in the evocation of the unnamable and tender places of pain, suffering, and death that mark our human lives.
─Persis Karim, poet and editor of Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora