The World as We Know It Is Falling Away: New Poems by Jane Greer


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“The clenched intensity of some of these poems recalls Gerard Manley Hopkins, if we imagine Hopkins as a woman remembering the golden days of her Midwestern girlhood. Offering prayer, praise, elegy, spiritual struggle, and short hymn-like pieces, Jane Greer’s work eloquently reminds us of the range and power of devotional lyric.”

—Rachel Hadas, author, Love and Dread and Piece by Piece

“Jane Greer is one of our most quietly surprising poets, and The World as We Know It Is Falling Away is a volume of everyday, startling beauty.”

—Micah Mattix, poetry editor, First Things

Jane Greer writes poems of astonishing strength and delicacy. Ordinary joys are voiced in extraordinary language that is both crystal-clear and powerfully metaphorical. In poems whose mastery of craft is evident but never intrusive, Greer dazzles in a range of meters and forms; light breaks, darkness falls, but faith is never far away, as seen in “Catherine of Siena to Her Confessor,” a fine ghazal whose canonized medieval protagonist vigorously professes her belief: “It is the bridge of the Word, the bridge of his body,/that I climb, panting. I cling to the bridge of his body.” The World as We Know It Is Falling Away, Greer acknowledges, but in poems that are, by turns, archly stated and deeply felt, things invisible offer a grace that’s far more lasting.”

—Ned Balbo, author, The Cylburn Touch-Me-Nots and 3 Nights of the Perseids

“In the luminous lexicon of Jane Greer’s wise and tender third collection, “loss and bliss come from the same root.” Time and again, with practiced hand, the poet derives one from the other. The root these two share, of course, is life itself, the “solid facts” of which are “pestilence, fear, and war,” yet, no less solidly, “perfect figs” laid out for a loved one — life, which seems to go too soon yet proves as lasting as a stubborn creeper, its new shoots braiding “into a wild cascade.” A graceful sense of wholeness pervades these poems, as thick and honeyed as the light of a summer forever fading, forever fixed in the mind.”

—Boris Dralyuk, author, My Hollywood and Other Poems and editor, the Los Angeles Review of Books

“Jane Greer’s Twitter handle, @NorthDakotaJane, sounds like the moniker of a frontier outlaw. So it should. I can see her face on a wanted poster. At a time when most poets and critics abhor “traditional” forms, she is a master of the ancient art. At a time when “religion” is equated with small-mindedness and intolerance, she brazenly sings an “Eschaton Song.” Long may she ride.”

—John Wilson, editor, Books & Culture (1995-2016)

“I am grateful for another book from such a talented poet who only returned to writing late in life. Greer has a knack for direct statement and a gift for natural and unforced rhyme, but, more than that, she reminds me of Augustine as a great dramatist of the inner religious life. She has studied long the swervings of the human heart and just might be the best living devotional poet in America.”

—Burl Horniachek, editor, To Heaven’s Rim: The Kingdom Poets Book of World Christian Poetry, Beginnings to 1800

“In Jane Greer’s new collection of poems, graces abound at every turn. Her voice is at once a fresh and frank friend from the prairie and an echo of Donne, Eliot, and Hopkins. There’s a playfulness that doesn’t so much mask the spiritual depth as make it approachable and earthy while always pointing us beyond the world that is, after all, falling away. A delight from start to finish, and will certainly reward returning.”

—Fr. Bill Dailey, CSC, founding director, Notre Dame-Newman Centre for Faith & Reason, Dublin, Ireland

“The best way to describe Jane Greer’s poems in The World as We Know It Is Falling Away is to say that they’re faithful. They’re full of a faith that lets the drama and humor of family life sidle up next to the lives of the saints. And they’re filled with faithfulness to all sorts of high truths, even to truths that are in contradiction: the truth that human beings struggle to be good; the truth that memories of our past lives are sometimes dreamingly lovely and some- times make us cringe; the truth that the world is full of ecstatic beauty and that its falling away is not a bad thing. Above all, they’re faithful to poetry’s roots in song and incantation and charm.”

—Maryann Corbett, author, In Code

“Jane Greer’s latest book of poems delights as it edifies, and edifies as it delights. Greer sees the world as it is—passing away—and sees beyond it, without any of the tragic cynicism that attempts to see through it. This collection is a remarkable poetic achievement, and I heartily recommend it.”

—Christopher R. Altieri, contributing editor, Catholic World Report

“The poems in Jane Greer’s distilled and potent collection display both clarity of thought and precision in formal control, without sacrificing a sense of mystery, the acknowledgment that a Word exists beyond the bounds of human language. Often striking in their brevity, these poems drop onto the silent page “like so much gravel,” like prayers dropping to the ground and resonating there, “kadosh, kadosh, kadosh.” Like the seventeenth-century metaphysical poets, Greer takes the paradigms and paradoxes of the spiritual life as her poetic preoccupation, but she is also a poet of place, drawing on the landscape of her native North Dakota, and a poet of human experience in all its ecstasy, trespass, and loss. These poems, though sharp and bracing as the “bright and brittle air” of a Plains winter, are radiant nevertheless with the vision of a transcendent “golden hour.”

—Sally Thomas, author, Motherland

“Loss and bliss come from the same root”: the wisdom contained in this line informs every poem in this absorbing new collection by Jane Greer, whose Catholic faith is pervasive but never taken for granted. Whether her dexterously crafted poems are evoking Edenic “light as thick as clover honey” or the bitterness of loss and personal disappointment, their subject matter is searching and earned. Greer uses rhyme, meter, and other techniques with a light touch adapted to the context. She composes phrases and sounds that are poignant, playful, and a pleasure to roll around on the tongue and ponder in the heart.

—Andrew Frisardi, author, The Harvest and the Lamp and Ancient Salt: Essays on Poets, Poetry, and the Modern World