Jessica Greenbaum

Jessica Greenbaum is the author of Inventing Difficulty, winner of the Gerald Cable Prize, and The Two Yvonnes, chosen by Paul Muldoon for the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets. She is the recipient of a fellowship from the NEA, and of the Alice Fay Di Castagnola Prize from the Poetry Society of America for the poems in Spilled and Gone. She teaches inside and outside academia, and lives in her native Brooklyn.

Spilled and Gone


Spilled and Gone, Jessica Greenbaum’s third collection marries the world through metaphor so that a serrated knife on its back is as harmless as “the ocean on a shiny day,” and two crossed daisies in Emily Dickinson’s herbarium “might double as the logo /for a roving band of pacifists.”
At heart, the poems themselves seek peace through close observation’s associative power to reveal cohering relationships and meaning within the 21st century-and during its dark turn. In the everyday tally of “the good against the violence” the speaker asks, “why can’t the line around the block on the free night/ at the museum stand for everything, why can’t the shriek /of the girls in summer waves . . . / be the call and response of all people living on the earth?” A descendant of the New York school and the second wave, Greenbaum “spills” details that she simultaneously replaces-through the spiraling revelations only poems with an authentic life-force of humanism can nurture.