In dream language, poet Jane Augustine captures the vivid, bright, sadness of life surrounding love and death, particularly when death comes to someone young—in this case, her daughter-in-law, Michelle (born Phuong Vu), a child-survivor of the war in Vietnam. With riveting details of beauty and pain, Augustine opens the heart with how truly Transitory life really is—the title of her poignant “poem sequence.”
Marilyn Webb, author of The Good Death: The New American Search to Reshape the End of Life
Jane Augustine’s moving meditation on her young daughter-in-law’s death also engages an ancient inquiry into the purpose of poetry itself. “Alone in a cold house,” as she writes in one of the spare, transparent poems in the sequence, “I think of books—how long they last, how late it is.” The lateness of the hour she invokes is not only the heart-wrenching early loss of youth and love that stalks this book, but also the late moment of our own times, the wars and miseries we rain down on our kind. This document of enduring, patient witness belongs to the world of “voice” rather than to the genre of poem or prose. It is a luminous companion from—and for—a hard time.
Jane Augustine has published three chapbooks, Lit by the Earth’s Dark Blood, Journeys, and French Windows, a much-anthologized short story Secretive, and poems in many literary magazines. Winner of two Fellowships in Poetry from the New York State Council on the Arts,
she also has a Ph.D. with specialization in modern women writers. She is the editor of The Gift by H.D.: The Complete Text (University Press of Florida, 1998) and has taught at Pratt Institute, The New School, and Naropa University. She lives in New York City and Westcliffe, Colorado.