Between the Rows
poems by Nancy K. Jentsch
In this collection, Nancy K. Jentsch takes the reader to familiar places where ambiguity and conjecture reign, where no single response seems to be the right one. But rather than encouraging her reader to tiptoe past discomfort, loss, and unanswered questions, the poet’s words attempt to illuminate those fragile spaces, braiding despair with hope and "mapping a yes to what/can yet be holy.”
POETRY / General
ISBN: 978-1-956056-54-9 (print; softcover; perfect bound; 4 black-and-white illustrations)
Released October 2022 | Copyright 2022
Nancy K. Jentsch’s chapbook Authorized Visitors (Cherry Grove Collections) and the collaborative chapbook Frame and Mount the Sky (Finishing Line Press), in which her poetry appears, were published in 2017. Since 2008, when she began writing, her work has appeared in both online and print journals such as Amethyst Review, Eclectica, Panoply, Tiferet Journal, and Zingara Poetry Review, and in numerous anthologies. In 2020 she received an Arts Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women to work on this collection. She has retired after thirty-seven years of teaching at Northern Kentucky University and finds a bounty of inspiration for her writing in her family and their rural home.
“Nancy K. Jentsch’s new book, Between the Rows, is a beautiful adventure into the spiritual exploration of nature and art. Jentsch masterfully weaves the reader through the unexpected and the uncertain toward the ringing hope of ‘every day has something in it.’ Between the Rows gives us a clear view of the natural world and all its engaging mysteries. Even at a routine bus stop we hear the ‘call of geese / angled to scissor sky.’ The author surprises with phrases like ‘this day slipped from my week’s needle’ and ‘flower beds jeer with weeds.’ These poems will amaze and fill the heart as ‘a cup / that has forgotten / it can hold water.’
“Mixing literature, art, the domestic and the agricultural, Nancy Jentsch expresses her complex life. Between the Rows bring us the work of a teacher of German, traveler, mother, wife, and gardener in poems arising from the everyday but touching the transcendent. In her Kentucky homestead, thinking of visitors to the ocean, she wonders,, ‘Am I lucky living landlocked / by bluegrass and limestone / pinning a second stanza, / blue-green, to the poem the starlings / paint above our hills?’ Yes, we readers gladly answer, for we too are lucky to have this poet’s attention and craft, her celebration of her world and life, and her understated but inescapable apprehension about climate change. These are poems of and for our times.”
“Don’t let the spare look of these poems fool you; there is plenty of meat on their bones. Nancy K. Jentsch’s poems are full of wonder and gratitude, brimming with humanity and exquisite detail. Grief and joy dance side by side and, sometimes, together in the same poem. In ‘Survivors,’ the alliteration of words beginning with the letter f creates a fizzle, like letting the air out, leading to a startling revelation. Beloved family members, long gone, are brought to life with memories rich in detail: Mimmie’s Sammeltassen, Pop-Pop’s slide rule, Nana’s mirror. The natural world—geese and voles, vetch and crabgrass—is equally vivid; a spellbound deer with her ‘whole-note eye,’ ‘doves / flutter like falling leaves,’ a stack of hay offers ‘a whiff of last spring’s / blooms.’ Jentsch’s poems compel you to linger. You won’t be sorry if you do.
—Yvonne Zipter, author of Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound
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