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Jillian Weise

Jillian Weise was born in Houston, Texas, in 1981. A poet, performance artist, and disability rights activist, she studied at Florida State University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the University of Cincinnati.

Weise is the author of three collections of poetry, including Cyborg Detective (BOA Editions, 2019) and The Book of Goodbyes (BOA Editions, 2013), winner of the 2013 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, which recognizes a superior second book of poetry by an American poet. 

As Laughlin Award judge Brenda Shaughnessy wrote about Weise's winning book:

Jillian Weise’s crackling second collection is called The Book of Goodbyes—that’s “Goodbyes” plural. For it turns out there are so very many ways to say it. This is no ordinary see ya later/maybe next life, no firm and clear Dear John letter, though epistolary laments and last words pierce the reader as if Big Logos (the book’s nickname for the beloved) broke our hearts as well as the speaker’s. But this book’s smart, endearing, self-consciously self-dramatizing speaker is the heartbreaking heroine of the book, and she is NOT HAVING IT. That is, if she’s leaving, she’ll do it fiercely and with such full-throated articulation and insight that it won’t be easy to let her go....This book reminds us that the pain of love and loss, in the hands of a powerful wordsmith such as Weise, might just morph into passion, thrill, strength. And that love-suffering can bring us ever closer to lovability because through it we learn to connect, renew, transform.

Weise is also the author of the novel The Colony (Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press, 2010). Her other honors include a Fulbright Fellowship and the 2013 Isabella Gardner Poetry Award from BOA Editions.


Bibliography

Cyborg Detective (BOA Editions, 2019)
The Book of Goodbyes (BOA Editions, 2013)
The Colony (Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press, 2010)
The Amputee’s Guide to Sex (Soft Skull Press, 2007)

Jillian Weise

By This Poet

7

Goodbyes

begin long before you hear them
and gain speed and come out of 
the same place as other words.
They should have their own
place to come from, the elbow
perhaps, since elbows look
funny and never weep. Why
are you proud of me? I said
goodbye to you forty times.
I see your point. That is
an achievement unto itself.
My mom wants me to write
a goodbye poem. It should fit 
inside a card and use the phrase,
“You are one powerful lady.”
There is nothing powerful
about me though you might 
think so from the way I spit.
I don’t want to say goodbye
to you anymore. I heard
the first wave was an accident.
It happened in the Cave 
of the Hands in Santa Cruz.
The four of them were drinking
and someone killed
a wild boar and someone else
said, “Hey look, I put my hand
in it. Saying goodbye is like that.
You put your hand in it and then
you take your hand back.

Evangelize Your Love


At home, a sixteen-year-old son
and window treatments and walls
to paint and “How was your day?”
On the web there are no days
and no seasons and no oil changes
for the Subaru. “No one important.”
At the motel, flat pillows, a lamp 
tall as his son in the corner and 
a print of a sailboat. “In year three, 
the sex fizzled and we broke up. 
Then we got married.” Have you gotten 
yourself into something? “Tonight 
I am making your favorite dish.” 
News comes on, news goes off, taxes. 
“At some point, he stopped kissing me 
on the neck.” She needs to write 
her Goals Statement. “He promised.” 
More or less. “How can I live like this?” 
the three of them in unison.

Beside You on Main Street

We were stepping out of a reading
in October, the first cold night,
and we were following this couple,
were they at the reading? and because
we were lost, I called out to them,
“Are you going to the after party?”
The woman laughed and said no
and the man kept walking, and she
was holding his hand like I hold yours,
though not exactly, she did not
need him for balance. Then what
got into me? I said, “How long
have you been married?” and she said
“Almost 30 years” and because
we were walking in public, no secret,
tell everyone now it’s official,
I said, “How’s marriage?” The man
kept walking. The woman said,
“It gets better but then it gets different.”
The man kept walking.

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