Publication Date: October, 2007
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What People are Saying about Harlot:
There is little joy in this enormously courageous collection. But immense passion. Whatever the final answer — and even if there is none — we must never stop rising up in passion.
—Nic Sebastian at Galatea Resurrects, read entire review here
Writing is a game of appearances, disappearances--it dances among the holograms called Desire. Jill Alexander Essbaum is an able navigator of the terrain.
—Tom Beckett at Galatea Resurects, read entire review here
Few poets’ roots go deeper than the Romantics; Jill Alexander Essbaum’s reach all the way to the Elizabethans. In her Harlot one hears Herbert and Wyatt and Donne, their parallax view of religion as sex and sex as religion, their delight in sin, their smirking penitence, their penchant for the conceit, their riddles and fables, their fondling and squeezing of language. But this “postulant in the Church of the Kiss” is a twenty-first century woman, a “strange woman” less bowed to confession than hell-bent on fairly bragging of threesomes and more complications than were wet-dreamt of in Mr. W. H.’s philosophy.
—H. L. Hix
A collection aptly named—a Harlot in the truest sense—every poem a payoff in fleshy delight, palpable, nearly tasty and never a schoolgirl fumble or flop. Her unyielding talent for using language - and using it until it is red and sore—gives the reader an understanding of a poem's bones without exposing all of its secrets. Its sounds are real and guttural; the subjects are equally heady and addicting. Essbaum's talent for turning "tricks" has earned her an intense collection of poetry that swims and shimmers and sears before it demands cash. Worth it every time.
After Proverbs 7
She searches the sky for a god who will reach down and love her.
She seeks the arms of a lust that would stretch out to have her.
She shudders like a whore in a rickety chair.
She plaits ribbons of pain in her hair.
She sings unruly songs in strident keys.
Her feet abide in no man’s custody.
She is pity’s shabby bride, and lechery’s courtesan.
Mistress of a never-to-rise-again sun.
She tinctures her wines according to your desires.
In her bed, Hell is always and only fire.
You can set her apart like surfeit, delirious tither.
But no. She won’t be faithful to you either.
But hearken: The Goodman is gone and she will flatter you.
Use her. She will let you.