In Midnight in the Guest Room Jan Bailey locates the bliss of the routine experiences in womens liveschildhood, love, marriage, sexuality, birth, child rearing, agingand transforms them into moments of transcendent power and beauty. With uncommon wit and sensitivity she offers us poems about the pleasures of a womans soft and unstylish belly; the fierceness of mother love; the desolation of a miscarriage; the hilarious illusion of sexual healing; the unexpected eroticism of breast feeding:
from 'Mornings in the Blue House:'
She draped her newborn like a sheaf of peonies
across her lap, peeled back the blanket from
the puff-ball face, then parted her robe, pinched
her nipple and settled in her daughter there
and something sweetly sexual rose between
them the pressure, the release and she fell
fully into love, holding nothing back
as with a man, whose wounding begins
as soon as he cries Baby and rolls over.
Rooted in the landscape of the south, celebrating the private treasures to be found in the everyday world, her poems speak to us all of the joys and the losses of the seasons of our lives.
Jan Baileys book begins with an ode to the belly, with its frayed mapping of desire, and travels from that intimate core through a meditation on the body as it is filled and transported by love and time -- desire and marriage, childbirth and loss, the strange transformations of aging. Like the speaker who sits up late reading in order to drink the everyday of other women, Bailey is hungry for the texture of the body, the great communal chain of lived experience; these sensuous, physical poems join her to that current of being.
In shapes as solid as cut stone and as brilliant as gems, Jan Baileys Midnight in the Guest Room
is powered by a headlong intensity to bring back alive what its like to be alive. Her poems have the confronting yet yielding power of the nude. The living one, the one the artist modeled her work on.
The voice of the poems in Midnight in the Guest Room is a womans voice speaking in clear, strong measures of universal human experiences-- loss and recovery, love and anger, parental joy and regret, the erotic and the contemplative, wonder and certainty. Jan Baileys poems are a pleasure in their honesty and openness, in the art of their language, in the breadth of their vision. The gift of this book belongs to us all.
Language is compatibly married to world in Jan Bailey s felicitous images and music, in lines as strong and lovely as her ropes of wisteria / wide as a woman's thigh. She celebrates the sensual in the complex lives of women; but she never shrinks from sorrow with his sharp scythe of gray, nor from anything.
|Jan Bailey grew up in the foothills of South Carolina. The author of two highly acclaimed volumes of poetry, Paper Clothes and Heart of the Other: Island Poems, she is a recipient of the South Carolina Arts Commission Fellowship in Poetry. She holds an MFA from Vermont College and divides her time between South Carolina, where she is in the Creative Writing Department of the Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, and Monhegan Island, Maine, where she teaches poetry workshops. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she is the winner of the Elinor Benedict Prize in Poetry from Passages North magazine and the winner of the Sue Saniel Elkind Prize from Kalliope Journal.
Leslie Ullman Praises the Poetry of Jan Bailey
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