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2013 Frost Place Chapbook Fellow Jill Osier

Meet Jill Osier

JILL OSIER is the author of a letterpress chapbook, Bedful of Nebraskas (Sunnyoutside Press).  Her work has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellowship from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and the Campbell Corner Poetry Prize. Originally from northeast Iowa, she lives in Fairbanks, Alaska.

L I T T L E  T O W N S  S H I N I N G  I N  T H E  D I S T A N C E   a poem by Jill Osier

2013 Judge Patrick Donnelly’s Praise for Should Our Undoing Come Down Upon Us White

“As with some singing voices, there are poetic voices of such direct authority and clarity that they capture our deep engagement almost before we are aware that we have begun to listen. Jill Osier’s is such a voice. Like Franz Schubert’s song-cycle Winterreise, these poems of Osier’s take us on a lonely winter-journey through a stripped-down world, in which, as she says, “all the roads are well-worn, all the wagons breaking.” Because the poems, each a small, superb vignette with a different angle of light or insight, comprise a true and transformational sequence, after Osier has performed her winter pageant for us, we are not the same people as when we began. To survive in winter, one must go inside, literally and figuratively, and with aching simplicity and sensuality of voice, that is what Osier does. But as much as she presents winter as “the correctional,” a chastening and humbling space-time which every life must eventually experience, inside Osier’s ice is fire. Indeed, she feeds the stove of these poems with such wit and feeling that it’s warm enough inside to take off your shirt and make love—and she does, and we do. This sequence enacts the fascinating paradox that even (or especially) in winter it is possible to be burned, if we draw carelessly too near the molten inner hearth, and also that when the confusing winter disguises of things thaw and melt (seemingly a hopeful moment), we may be in danger of drowning in too much awareness. Osier sings these astringent predicaments in a voice of continual courage, freshness, and lucidity, full of tender attention to the small details of the phenomenal world. [Y]ou must keep these cold a character in these poems says of flowers, and everything intimately personal in Should Our Undoing Come Down Upon Us White, as though packed in the rigors of Yeats’s ice and salt, has been transformed into a pellucid universality. I predict Jill Osier will have an important place in, and a clarifying influence on, American poetics.”

—Patrick Donnelly, author of The Charge, and Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin