Published: Saturday, 16 November 2013 00:00
The Light on the Wall is available for sale at Main Street Rag.
What a stunning group of poems, each one as sharp and clear as a diamond shard of glass. The last time I can remember experiencing poems that moved me as intensely as these, I was a young woman reading Sylvia Plath for the first time. From poems exploring a mother’s mental illness, through those informed by travels through Asia, Jen Ashburn traces psychic wounds of both humans and cultures with precision, nuance and emotional color. This is the best collection of poems I’ve read all year. --Sheryl St. Germain
Jen Ashburn's debut, The Light on the Wall, explores the question: “can I love this earth/not having born it?” The answer is a carefully observed, tender, complex, compelling, Yes. These poems of displacement, of a woman navigating the strange territories of a dismantled family and travels in foreign lands, will wake up your eyes, and Ashburn's voice—sure, steady, and surprising—will leave you praising and echoing her words: "Let me remember even when I'm hunched with work, when I'm old and crumpled with life: This life. Thank you. Please." --Nancy Krygowski
In The Light on the Wall, Jen Ashburn powerfully depicts the fragility and complexities of childhood alongside the wonder of exploring and observing the world around us. This is a poetry of memory but also of awakening—written with great musicality, a precise eye for image, and a spirited tenderness. “I need the dark to see the starlight,” Ashburn says. She captures both darkness and light elegantly in this stunning debut collection of poems. --Scott Silsbe