Jenny Factor
from Poetry
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Lascivious Thoughts: Valentine's Day 2008
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Unraveling at the Name
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Unraveling at the Name, was bundled with a review of John Frederick Nims' The Powers of Heaven and Earth, reviewed by Christina Pugh for Poetry magazine
 
       ...[John Frederick] Nims share[s] [Jenny] Factor's delight in fixed form and...her ability to make verseforms sing with idiosyncracy....

Unraveling at the Name, reviewed by Christina Pugh for Poetry magazine
 
      "Jenny Factor's first volume of poems is really a novella in verse...through a sequence of poems in fixed forms--sonnets, blank verse, sestinas, couplets, and more. This is essentially a book about a young woman's self-discovery and its consequences...[with a] victory of tone that is all the more impressive in a first book. When Factor's lines swagger, the swagger feels hard-won rather than assumed. But this might not be evident on a casual reading of a poem or two.
       Factor never mistakes coming out for conversion experience...and this inspires both the humor and pain that animate this book. But Factor has written more than a lesbian Buildungsroman in verse. Her speaker is also a brand new parent; and this makes for a tricky line to walk, both poetically and narratively. Remarkably, Factor makes it work. Unlike other recent first books, Unraveling at the Name refuses to sentimentalize the experience of mothering a very young child: "And who had ever seen so many/hours stitched together, laid out beside one another, / to move through as through pond water?" Through the unusual vehicle of poetic sequence, Unraveling at the Name gives us something unfashionable and even startling in these times of "putting children first": the notion that a loving mother can have an identity separate from her child.
        The book never preaches this moral, however, and the reader must derive Factor's feminism (to use another unfashionable word) inductively, as it were...Eschewing canned personal fulfillment and narrative resolution, Unraveling at the Name leaves us suspended...but we sense a victory of authenticity.
       When all is said and done, the test for such a book is very simple: do we care what happens to the character? In this case, we do."
 
Jenny Factor's Unraveling at the Name appeared as a short review in the August 2003 issue of Poetry, reviewed by Christina Pugh. For the full text, order this issue from the Poetry archives.
 
Top quote appeared in the tandem review of John Frederick Nims' The Powers of Heaven and Earth: New & Selected Poems (LSU Press, 2002)