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Jennifer Clarvoe’s second book, Counter-Amores, wrestles with and against love. The poems in the title series talk back to Ovid’s Amores, and, in talking back, take charge, take delight, and take revenge. They suggest that we discover what we love by fighting, by bringing our angry, hungry, imperfect selves into the battle. Like a man who shouts for the echo back from a cliff, or the scientist who teaches her parrot to say, “I love you,” or the philosopher who wonders what it is like to be a bat, or Temple Grandin’s lucid imaginings of the last moments of cattle destined for slaughter, the speakers in these poems seek to find themselves in relation to an ever-widening circle of unknowable others. Yearning for “the sweet cool hum of fridge and fluorescent that sang ‘home,’” we’re as likely to find “fifty-seven clicks and flickering channels pitched to the galaxy.” Song itself becomes a site for gorgeous struggle, just as bella means both “beautiful” and “wars.”

88 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2011

Phoenix Poets



“Delight, alarm, and controlled delirium: that’s the effect of Jennifer Clarvoe’s simultaneously centripetal and centrifugal poems. Sense explodes out of her tightly contained, rhymed, punning, and allusive stanzas. A higher sense, and a deeper sense, than our dailiness allows, as she reminds us that “‘silly,’ / because it takes us past the bounds of reason, / comes from Seele, comes from the word for soul.’”

Rosanna Warren, Boston University

Table of Contents


One: Reflecting Pool

After the Equinox
Island of Opposites
A Cradle
Mi Ritrovai
Reflecting Pool
The Crossing, 1969: USS United States
After the Storm
The Wild Turkeys
Today’s Public Garden
Short Shrift

Two: How I Fell

How I Fell & How It Felt
Day of Needs
The Body Is a Disenchanting Thing
What Is It Like to Be a Bat?
Mortal Coil
In the Nights of Cacophony
High Time
After Words
Facing the Judge, at the Altar
I Know Why You Went to Memphis, Uh Huh
Cultural Instructions: Spring
Who’s Counting?

Three: Counter-Amores

Counter-Amores I.5
Counter-Amores I.3
Counter-Amores I.2
Counter-Amores I.7
Counter-Amores I.14
Counter-Amores III.14
Counter-Amores III.5
Counter-Amores II.1
Counter-Amores II.16
Counter-Amores I.1
What She Thought
Counter-Amores III.15


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