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Wells
Jenna Butler
Jenna Butler draws on her own experiences of her grandmother's disappearance into senile dementia to reassemble a sensual world in longpoem form that positively crackles with imagery and rhythm. Identities and memories flow and flicker as she strings together fragments of narrative into stories that comprise one woman's life. It entwines her disappearing life with that of the persona of the woman's granddaughter through a choreographed confusion of identities: of she's and I's. Few poets could execute this with convincing solemnity, while simultaneously recovering the dignity of the sufferer and her loved ones. Butler does. Poetry lovers, critics and scholars, and readers who crave a deft style charged with honest emotion should read Wells.
Format:  Trade Paperback
ISBN:  978-0-88864-606-4
Price:  CND$ 19.95, USD$ 19.95, £ 12.99
Discount:  Trade
Subject:  Poetry/Canadian Literature
Publication Date:  February 2012
Awards
2013 Association of American University Presses
AAUP Book, Jacket & Journal Show, Jacket & Covers
Reviews
"[Wells] contains atmospheric and beautiful prose-poems about [poet Jenna Butler's] English grandmother. Those who have been to the area around Wells-next-the-Sea will appreciate how well Butler evokes East Anglia with its coastal lands, where 'the North sea speaks carefully around a mouthful of flints,' and its wide skies over the saltmarshes with birds riding the wind – 'a linnet in aerobatic flight, its song pealing like rain'. But even for those who do not know the locality, Butler’s poems will surely conjure them as clearly as she portrays the terrifying swarm of hornets in barley fields that few of us could ever have imagined: 'Nothing saved you from those lividly buzzing fields, not wellingtons to the knee, not the mad frenzied dash affected at each humming cataclysm.'”
Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, London Grip [Full review at http://bit.ly/1jhcMB0]
The poems in Wells are all written in the second person, and, by addressing the grandmother who eventually will no longer recognize her, Butler creates not an elegy but an intimate dialogue. She not only speaks to her grandmother but also speaks for her, turning fragments of memory and family lore into a winding narrative of Muriel Butler’s life, from childhood to old age. - See more at: http://arcpoetry.ca/?p=6913#sthash.GRZcuKzO.dpuf, Jennifer Delisle, Arc Poetry Magazine, July 25, 2013
“This cover stood out from the others because its design is evocative of a place and feeling and not otherwise illustrative or symbolic.”
AAUP’s Book, Jacket, and Journal Show, Jury Comments, 2013
"[Wells] explores the structure of the prose-poem, and the prairie narrative stretched out as long as a line can follow. Arranged in poem-sections, the poem-fragments hold up as a series of family photographs either blurry or apocryphal, and write the prairie sentence/long line with exquisite grace.”
rob mclennan's blog, March 19, 2012 [Full posting athttp://bit.ly/FSaEgs]
"Jenna Butler blurs the boundaries of identity in Wells…”
Off the Shelf, Geist, Summer 2012
"[English-Canadian poet Jenna Butler] speaks on rural life as well as the family life that we all share... Wells is a charming read...”
Wisconsin Bookwatch, May 2012
Interview with Jenna Butler on CBC
"In a fragmented, sensory assemblage, Butler witnesses her grandmother's disappearance into dementia. The loss of language is not tidy. Post-it notes are found in 'arcane places.'... Wells is a beautiful homage to a beloved grandparent, but also a poignant and gently persistent inquiry into peripheral loss. Butler gets at the difficulty of 'seeing our own lives erased' from another's memory, and how that leaves us 'left doubting, in a deep place, the truth of our own existence.'”
Shawna Lemay, Edmonton Journal, April 7, 2012 [Full article at http://bit.ly/HzQUjb]
"The poems use a rich, sensual vocabulary of flora & fauna, delineating each separate item of once loved & now lost local life, now retrieved by the poet to make manifest the world the remembered grandmother can no longer say into being.... Wells is a beautifully sad acknowledgement of the losses all must face, made deeply personal & universal through its sharply observed images of a life now gone. It’s a fine example of how to take lyric & shake it into something beyond the merely personal.”
Eclectic Ruckus, March 23, 2012 [Full post at http://bit.ly/IgulkV]

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