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Enter the 2009
Book Prize

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Winner of the 2008 National Poetry Review Book Prize

Urchin to Follow

by Dorine Jennette

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"Throughout Dorine Jennette’s Urchin to Follow, we hear the clatter and bustle and boisterous music of a kind of poetic mad scientist, a writer examining the things of this world, curious to fasten together any number of them and see what happens. The result is a deeply persuasive poetry, formally various, joyful and wary, funny and true—poetry that is busy desiring what is doubted, doubting what is desired, reconstructing the deconstructed, putting the paddles to the lyric’s stopped heart to make it sing again."
—Chris Forhan

These poems leap off the page through sheer energy born out of the scope of the author’s imagination, as in her title poem, where words leap and bound: ‘The urchin / a communal singularity, a solipsistic whole / whose diversified nerves dream the whole story . . .’ The whole book exudes a love of language and a playful intelligence, reminiscent of the work of William Matthews and Heather McHugh, both masters of syntactical twists and startling turns of phrase. Dorine Jennette’s poems have the ability to take us out of ourselves, rendering the ordinary world intricate and interesting again: ‘Goose on the mailbox, onion under stool, / no chowder can come of this, // and so many irons in the fire! / A good landing is one you walk away from.’ With this extraordinary first book, Jennette has made a good landing indeed.
—Judith Ortiz Cofer

“What if Dorothy Parker had been interested in biology? What if Heather McHugh had taken up rock climbing? These are the questions we begin asking as we enter Dorine Jennette’s funny, sly poetic world, inhabited by ‘bulge-eyed denizens’ and speakers who want to ‘make sweetness in the broom closet.’ With humor and a searing intelligence, Jennette presents us with her subjects: the natural world and the postmodern condition. If, as Jennette says, the body is ‘a bureaucrat commanding a war,’ the poems in this collection command a fiesta: a jazzy musical party, stippled with bats, trees, and insects. Each poem is a linguistic piņata that rains its sweet candy down onto the grass at our feet.”
—Connie Voisine

Dorine Jennette’s poetry and prose have appeared in journals such as the Journal, Coconut, Court Green, Puerto del Sol, Ninth Letter, the New Orleans Review, and the Georgia Review. Raised in the Seattle area, she earned her MFA at New Mexico State University and her PhD at the University of Georgia.
She lives in Davis, California.