In Jessica Tanck’s debut collection, narrative and lyric converge to confront the marks left by violence, loss, and longing. Winter Here troubles the boundaries between home and the outside world, between reverence and terror, asking whether and where safety can be found in the wake of a mother’s suicide. Both intimate and expansive, this collection revels in pleasure as much as it contends with pain. Whether studying the way a violinist is bruised in the act of playing, invoking the crush of ice around a ship’s hull during a silence, or conjuring a crown of light surrounding strangers speaking in tongues, these poems are unflinching, imaginative, and relentless in their searching. By moving between the explicit and the oblique, pairing scorching imagery with razor-edged thought, Tanck evokes a history that haunts every word and place.
Jessica Tanck’s Winter Here
is a deeply visceral and refreshingly unflinching collection. These poems do not shy away from hard truths as they deal with the specter of childhood and eventual coming of age through the lens of the death of an ineffectual mother and the lack of faith in adults and adulthood. These poems are set in a world that does not come with a set of instructions to guide us—everything comes into question—love, relationships, religion, and most important, memory and our oftentimes tenuous relationship with it. Tanck’s poems will grab you by the collar and will not let you go, and you’ll be glad for it.
—Travis Denton, author of My Stunt Double
In Winter Here,
Jessica Tanck explores home and all its shadows. From the magic hour of early morning and the ways secrets still make a sound to ads and reviews from the darknet, Tanck shows us two ways of seeing the world and also the reasons to look away. These poems wrestle with God and music, with cold darknesses and a fire we can walk through. They remind us of all the ways there are to be haunted and all the gifts of tenderness we still try to offer.
—Traci Brimhall, author of Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod
The darkness, as some know too well, transforms us. Pupils expand, trying to absorb any possible light. Touch and hearing sharpen. No surprise, then, the synesthesia that sparks up in Jessica Tanck’s Winter Here
, where the cold is 'a song like white noise, crackling / a throb down the spine of all I want, feel, or touch.' Where 'the air was a hand / that closed over / my mouth.' We get Tanck’s ravenous imagination and mind thrown, remarkably, against the dark walls of ardor, little leaps of flame that provide light and warmth, but also remind that we can always be singed. Readers are lucky to catch a glimpse, in these poems, of such painful, such radiant light. It may be winter here, but, as Tanck reminds us, 'the cold / herds you to wherever there’s heat.' Let yourself be herded by this stunning book.
—Corey Van Landingham, author of Love Letter to Who Owns the Heavens
These are poems aware of our capacity for violence—the violence we do to ourselves, to each other, the violence that is memory itself. Even our most tender acts—whether we’re making art or offering someone consolation—come laced with threat. And yet 'How better to love one another,' Tanck asks, than when we tend to each other’s wounds? It’s a painful paradox to admit: our shared injuries pull us apart and also bring us together in the terrible territory that is love, in which we are both victim and aggressor, healer and sufferer, parent and child, ghost and body; where we cannot help giving into our desires, no matter how much they hurt. 'I am giving you a gift,' Tanck writes, 'I do not know how to take [it] back.'
—Paisley Rekdal, author of The Broken Country