American Happiness
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American Happiness

New Poems

Title Details

Pages: 80

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Pub Date: 10/01/2016

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8327-3

List Price: $21.95


Pub Date: 10/01/2016

ISBN: 9-781-6030-6420-0

List Price: $21.95


NewSouth Books

American Happiness

New Poems

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Awards

Winner of the Balcones Poetry Prize

American Happiness is an eclectic collection of verse from a bold poet of everyday life, Jacqueline Allen Trimble. Ironically titled, the work addresses everything from the death of parents to racial tension to the encroachment of coyotes into urban spaces.

The title is taken from a poem in the book which considers the kinder, gentler exploits of Sheriff Andy and Deputy Barney during a time when Southern law enforcement was neither universally kind or gentle. Says Trimble, “Barney had one bullet/and no need for a rope./The only burning he did was for his Thelma Lou.”

On her poetic journey, which takes us from the personal to the political, Trimble probes our racial divide. She is by turns compassionate and fierce, cutting at our hypocrisy with the knife of her words and willing us toward our better common humanity.

Jacqueline Allen Trimble's first poetry collection, American Happiness, exposes the central irony we live and breathe in the United States: the jagged edge between a "freedom and justice for all" national ideology and our real daily lives. Through humor and horror, the slim volume's vignettes limn that dangerous divide. Trimble's words comfort our sorrow but never lie to make us feel better. She took her mother's gifts of humor, irony, and steadfast love and weaves poetry that speaks like a true friend.

—Midtown Montgomery Living

Jacqueline Trimble’s collection is dynamic—beautiful and funny, yet arresting and gut-punching. It’s her artistic range that really makes American Happiness sing. We need her informed, prophetic voice.

—Dirty Paws Poetry Review

Jacqueline Trimble is fiercely dedicated to turning everyday life into poetry. She is 'washing off a brown boot/or dozing on a screened porch/or cutting biscuits with a cup/or dreaming of another life/when she stops and takes the knife.' With the incisive knife of her poetry, she also probes America’s racial divide: 'Oh, my beloved country, what is to become of us,/Caught as we are in our own imagined terror?' She is always luminously aware of life’s pleasures and their cost: 'the sun at her back, the wounded in her wake.'

—Andrew Hudgins, author of Probably After the Lost War

In her debut collection, American Happiness, Jacqueline Trimble escorts readers on a poetic journey with Alabama culture ever-present throughout a narrative of, not only (re)memory, but discovery as well. Trimble skillfully (re)imagines her Southern heritage while using tropes within this heritage to discourse on the larger world. Trimble reminds us of the epiphanies humans create by living a full life. There is a jewel of a poet in the epicenter of Alabama who adeptly revisits the ugly of race, the power and legacy of familial bonds, the joys and beauty of growing up Southern—our complicated humanity. Say her name: Jacqueline Trimble.

—Randall Horton, author of Pitch Dark Anarchy

It is cause for celebration that Ms. Trimble is making poetry that is timely and timeless, elegant and brutal, wise and innocent. Highly recommended.

—Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama and Georgia Bottoms

Jacqueline Trimble waited a long time to publish this first book, but she is right on time. I longed for her kind of poetry, these cut-to-the-flesh poems, this verse that sings the old-time religion of difficult truths with new courage and utter sister-beauty. And I am so grateful for her gift, her grown woman poetics.

—Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, author of The Glory Gets

From the personal to the political, from the mythical to the real, from the romantic to the common, Jacqueline Trimble explores a variety of topics in engaging and at times even arresting poems in American Happiness. American Happiness is not a 'happy' book. Nor is it a soothing or comforting book, and it does not profess to be. Reading the ironically titled American Happiness provides not only a slice of the poet’s and America’s lives, but it calls into question and implicitly invites readers to ponder whether or not this is indeed the land of the free and the home of the brave. That thoughtful questioning/pondering is well worth the reading.

—Trudier Harris, author of Martin Luther King Jr., Heroism, and African American Literature

Jacqueline Trimble’s American Happiness is an amazing read. Once I started these poems, once I had finished the first poem about her father, I could not stop reading but continued devouring them until I had finished them all. These poems are strong, passionate, well crafted.

—Marge Piercy, author of The Hunger Moon

Not content with simple answers or easy platitudes, Trimble engages the contrasts and contradictions, even absurdities, of American life in the twenty-first century. Her grace is in the anger distilled to the bitter draft you savor as it bites, in thinking to ask whether Jean-Paul Sartre ever asked Simone de Beauvoir to go to the Winn-Dixie, in the fairy tales she rewrites and the myths of America she questions. This book you hold in your hands will teach and inspire and delight you. Be ready.

—Jennifer Horne, author of Little Wanderer: Poems and Tell the World You're a Wildflower: Stories

Jacqueline Trimble’s treatment of the paradoxical quality of love, of the pain of living and dying, of the blood of black history, and of a flirtation with the existential and transcendental—these and more are written with clarity, power, beauty, and grace. American Happiness is a must-read.

—Leonard A. Slade Jr., professor of Africana studies and English, State University of New York at Albany

One thing that is to become of us: we now can read and listen to Trimble’s very fine first book of poems. It may even be a book that helps us to release the hold upon us of terror and that schools us in compassion and the humor needed for survival. Trimble’s first collection – like good wine, properly and slowly seasoned – is smart, funny, mature, and engaging. Trimble writes her uneasy though definite love of place – America, the South, Alabama – in a manner that shows us that the wisdom is in the humor. Please read this book, and join me in eagerly awaiting Trimble’s next book of poetry.

—Hank Lazer, 2015 recipient of the Harper Lee Award, author of 22 books of poetry


Balcones Poetry Prize, Balcones Center for Creative Writing at Austin Community College


Book of the Year, Seven Sisters Book Awards

About the Author/Editor

JACQUELINE ALLEN TRIMBLE lives and writes in Montgomery, Alabama. She is a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellow, a Cave Canem Fellow, and an Alabama State Council on the Arts Literary Fellow. American Happiness, her debut collection (NewSouth Books, 2016), won the Balcones Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in various anthologies and journals including Poetry Magazine, The Offing, The Louisville Review, The Rumpus, and Poet Lore. She is a professor of English and chairs the Department of Languages and Literatures at Alabama State University.