Jackleg Opera: Collected Poems, 1990 to 2013 (Io Poetry Series)

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BJ Ward, an award-winning poet whose poetry and essays have been featured on National Public Radio and in publications such as The Sun Magazine, TriQuarterly, The Literary Review, and the New York Times, has brought together in one volume the fruits of his labor spanning over twenty years. A rich collection of thoughtful and often ironic reflections that reveal both the reverence and irreverence of human experience, Jackleg Opera contains the material from his three previous books Landing in New Jersey with Soft Hands, 17 Love Poems with No Despair, and Gravedigger's Birthday as well as thirty-five new poems that are reminiscent of the clear simple style of Poet Laureate Billy Collins.

Under the Elm
We left the party, walked / beneath a moon that seemed / more a spotlight than night, / until we found a tree. / We pressed against it / and the grass rose against us, / the sky continued to darken, / and soon days, weeks, migrations, / and metamorphoses passed / as we kissed ourselves out / of our bored lives. / Us–two thousand miles away now, / the grass still growing wild around our feet.

"In poems that both honor and transcend his blue-collar roots, BJ Ward blends poignancy and humor with downright good storytelling, and takes his place among the brightest voices of his generation."–Stephen Dunn, winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Product Details

  • Series: Io Poetry Series
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books (September 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583946772
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583946770
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces

Customer Reviews

A fine collection

2 people found this helpful.
 on October 22, 2013
By Griffarosto
This is a lovely collection of poems by one of Life’s great citizens. Funny and reflective by turns and always insightful, the book is organized in reverse chronology and I am pleased to report that some of the most impressive works are near the front, in BJ’s newest work. I first read the book in paperback but ordered this Kindle version so that I would always have Mr. Ward’s (we call him Munificent Polecat) works nearby. These are poems about love, poverty, fear of bears, spluttering breakfast pans and the great wide world which, despite all its challenges, holds so much joy and promise. I recommend a little BJ Ward to anyone who could use more sunshine and a few moments of clearer insight.

Poetry to invest in.

2 people found this helpful.
 on October 23, 2013
By Love Nutrition
If I am the Axe, Ward is the tree that felled me with chainsaw kisses and joyful words.

a love of metaphor

 on January 6, 2017
By Amazon Customer
BJ Ward is a poet I’ve had the pleasure of hearing perform, but his Jackleg Opera thrives without his physical presence because his voice is all over these poems: whiskeyed, full of tough compassion, a love of metaphor, and a refusal to sugar coat anything. You can see his growth in terms of form and line over the years, but his commitment to true communication is consistent.. new Jersey seems to have a tradition of narrative autobiographical poems and Ward is probably one of the two or the best exemplars of that tradition. His voice is clear, lucid, and playful, at times comical and at other times more intense then a steam whistle ready to blow. This is a book to buy and not give away– poems not just to read, but to re-read.

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