Dark Alphabet

Dark Alphabet

Poems by Jennifer Maier

In works whose subjects range from the theological to the carnal, the whimsical to the foreboding, Dark Alphabet, Jennifer Maier’s debut collection of poems, explores the everyday mysteries of common experience with humor, lucidity, and an unblinking yet compassionate eye. Whether sparked by a song overheard on the car radio, a packet of risqué postcards from the 1920's, a conversation with a dead parent, or the behavior of ducks in mating season, each poem sets off on a journey that ranges far from its origins, arriving in a place of wise good humor and somber grace.


 “Maier has written a first book that doesn’t read like one, replete as it is with the evidence of a mature craft and an established vision. While keeping the lives of people at the center of the design, Maier gets poems as easily from the willow pattern on China as from the template of myth she sees in what she sees.  Signs appear to her, also, of the literal sort. Patterns in the form of words—on cardboard over a market-gardener’s truck, on a license plate frame, or in fortune cookies—can launch her into the spirited vernacular rendered in this alphabet. Dark alphabet, it may be, but the poems are unsolemn, leavened by wit and brightened by metaphor, even when the subject is loss.”    

—Jason Sommer, author of The Man Who Sleeps in  My Office,Other People's Troubles, and Lifting the Stone 

“Jennifer Maier's colloquial language settles you comfortably into the passenger seat for a journey full of surprising turns. The poems are triggered by ordinary events: a friend's asking why she doesn't write novels; the sight of ducks in mating season. Dark Alphabet is a sophisticated blend of wit, intellect, feeling and perception, as mysterious as nightfall and as fresh as daybreak.”    

—Madeline DeFrees, recipient of the Lenore Marshall/The Nation  Prize for her selected poems, Blue Dusk