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About this poet

Jennifer L. Knox was born in Lancaster, California. She received a BA from the University of Iowa and an MFA from New York University.

Knox is the author of Days of Shame and Failure (Bloof Books, 2015), The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway (Bloof Books, 2010), Drunk by Noon (Bloof Books, 2007), and A Gringo Like Me (Bloof Books, 2007).

Knox’s poetry is known for its darkly imaginative humor. The poet Patricia Smith writes, “I cannot imagine what the inside of her head must be like, all tango and blaring and pinball, locked in its relentless churn. I can't believe that mere covers were able to contain this tender, this snorting laughter, these rampant truths.”

Knox has previously taught creative writing at Hunter College and New York University. She currently lives in Iowa, where she teaches at Iowa State University.


Bibliography

Days of Shame and Failure (Bloof Books, 2015)
The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway (Bloof Books, 2010)
Wir Fürchten Uns (Lux Books, 2008)
Drunk by Noon (Bloof Books, 2007)
A Gringo Like Me (Bloof Books, 2007)

Hive Minds

Riding in the car with my mother, I never graduated from the back seat to the front. Whenever I tried to climbing in next to her (“This is stupid—I’m riding up front”) she’d howl and swipe at me until I caved. That was how she defended her space. We drove around like that until I got my driver’s license: us two, locked in the dust-mote mottled skies of our own minds, counting things. Me: syllables and the shadows of telephone poles falling across the car. Her: I don’t know. She can’t describe her OCD to me—only that it has to do with numbers—some inexplicable tally she’s been running all her life. I imagine it like a spider’s web, easily disturbed, then dispersed by the breath of other people. Whatever its shape, it’s the only thing that’s ever soothed her.

One stalk of corn can’t bear fruit by itself. It needs other stalks around to pollinate. Even a single row won’t cut it. The Mandan knew to grow them in circles, my boyfriend tells me. And sunflowers, his father adds, grown in a row will take turns bending north, then south, etc. down the line to give each other a shot at the light. We’re in the garden after dinner. Suddenly I envy anything that moves itself to accommodate another: a subtle shift to the left or right, self preservation that could pass for love.

From Days of Shame & Failure (Bloof Books, 2015). Copyright © 2015 by Jennifer L. Knox.

From Days of Shame & Failure (Bloof Books, 2015). Copyright © 2015 by Jennifer L. Knox.

Jennifer L. Knox

Jennifer L. Knox

Jennifer L. Knox is the author of Days of Shame and Failure (Bloof Books, 2015), The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway (Bloof Books, 2010), Drunk by Noon (Bloof Books, 2007), and A Gringo Like Me (Bloof Books, 2007). She lives in Iowa, where she teaches at Iowa State University.

by this poet

poem

When my father was nine years old, his mother said, "Tommy, I'm taking you to the circus for your birthday. Just you and me, and I'll buy you anything you want." The middle child of six, my father thought this was the most incredible, wonderful thing that had ever happened to him—like something out of a fairy tale

poem
New fronds unfurl from the joints 
of older ones, like fists slow to open
in forgiveness but will inevitably in 
forgetfulness—that kind of newness green 

as the green of new ferns snaking fast 
up the old hosts’ throats turning brown 
beneath the ever-creep without a sound (to us—
all we hear’s waves). The
poem
and it takes me a triple-take to realize it's scanning
me, or something near my ear—that must be it. No plant’s 
ever complimented my perfume—wait—there it goes 
again. Did you see that? [Time passes, drinks] "Sure, I 
remember when I thought you were a fern but you were!
Who could blame me?" I tell the what’s