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Jennifer Bartlett

Jennifer Bartlett was born in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received a BA from the University of New Mexico and an MFA from Vermont College. 

Bartlett is the author of Autobiography/Anti-Autobiography (theenk Books, 2014), lullaby without any music (Chax Press, 2012), and Derivative of the Moving Image (University of New Mexico Press, 2007). Of her work, Nathaniel Tarn writes, “Jennifer Bartlett has created not a new form of surrealism, nor of magical realism, but a kind of supernal realism which leaves room for dreams, visions, and angels as well as the panoplies of both country and urban life.”

In 2017, Bartlett cofounded Zoeglossia, a literary organization pioneering an inclusive space for poets with disabilities. With Sheila Black and Michael Northen, she also coedited Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011).

Bartlett has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts
and the University of Connecticut, among others. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

By This Poet

2

The sun rears

The sun rears her unlikely head
In this late spring,
I walk past rubber black boots decorated
With brightly colored umbrellas
In a useless attempt to block the rain.

Up the subway to 14th street
Around the corner to 12th
I climb to the tenth or the eighth floor
Depending on your bodily condition.

I keep vigil over this resting.
My body is a candle, glowing
Until you make the transition
Back into or out of this life.

This is among the things that could happen.
This is among the things that happened.
For now, you reside in imposed silence.
Dying is just another commodity and

The soul wants routine.
The soul wants sameness, boredom.
The soul wants letting go.

Over us, the palmed stars.
 

from Autobiography/Anti-Autobiography

to walk means to fall
to thrust forward

to fall and catch

the seemingly random
is its own system of gestures

based on a series of neat errors
          falling and catching

to thrust forward

sometimes the body misses
then collapses

sometimes
it shatters

with this particular knowledge

a movement spastic
                       and unwieldy

is its own lyric and
the able-bodied are

tone-deaf to this singing some

falling

is of its own grace

some

falling

                         rather occurs

out of laziness or distraction

here, the entire frame is shaken

these are the falls

where I tell myself

you shouldn't have fallen

I mean to inflict

while the critic of the world watches

o stupid, stupid world