Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

March Book

by Jesse Ball

“Ball displays an otherworldly virtuosity in rendering the uncanny. . . . His luminous, arresting, uncanny dreamscapes call the reader. . . . Coolly seductive and skillfully wrought.” –DeSales Harrison, Boston Review

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 128
  • Publication Date April 22, 2004
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4122-4
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $13.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date December 01, 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-9976-8
  • US List Price $13.00

About The Book

March Book is a wonder and a revelation. A shockingly assured first collection from young poet Jesse Ball, its elegant lines and penetrating voice present a poetic symphony. Craftsmanship defines this collection; it is full of perfect line breaks, tenderly selected words, and inventive pairings. Just as impressive are the breadth and ingenuity of its recurring themes, which crescendo as Ball leads us through his fantastic world, quietly opening doors.

In five separate sections we meet beekeepers and parsons, a young woman named Anna in a thin linen dress, and an old scribe transferring the eponymous March Book. We witness a Willy Loman-esque worker who “ran out in the noon street / shirt sleeves rolled, and hurried after / that which might have passed” only to be told that there’s nothing between him and “the suddenness of age.” While these images achingly inform us of our delicate place in the physical world, others remind us why we still yearn to awake in it every day and ‘make pillows with the down / of stolen geese,” “build / rooms in terms of the hours of the day.” Like a patient Virgil, insistent and confident, Ball escorts us through his mind, and we’re lucky to follow.

Praise

“Ball displays an otherworldly virtuosity in rendering the uncanny. . . . His luminous, arresting, uncanny dreamscapes call the reader. . . . Coolly seductive and skillfully wrought.” –DeSales Harrison, Boston Review

“Jesse Ball’s debut, March Book, speaks from a voice I have never heard before, a voice I would not mistake were I to read a thousand more books this year… Ball’s language comes from a place behind us and to the left, in a copse covered with fog. It is not exactly foreign to us, but it is not present either; it is, perhaps, a language before we are infused with history… This book works as a poem, a fascinating poem that I will read often.” –William J. Neumire, Umbrella Journal Online

Excerpt

Anna’s Song

Suddenly it isn’t the day we thought it was.
Not the day, nor the hour nor the season.
I am dressed in gingham, you in close-knit flannel.
There are no appointments to keep. And so I leave
My dress at the edge of this day, beside your coat and trousers
And I say, John James,
We are circling and circling–Come stand with me on this shadowed incline.
The grass continues, so too the trees,
So too the stream and its talk of distance.
We will not be overseen. Come lie here prone
Where my loose hands cup your name,
Where the soil is dark and difficult and cold.
I’ll tell you what’s to come.

March Hour

I gave the child a coin; it promised not to speak.
Beyond the shallow lake, a leak had come
through the ceiling. Paint ran, and the face
the crowd had worn was now become
wholly new.

For instance, the servant girl, staid,
in severe linen, now wore her coyness like a bell.
‘remember, keep quiet!” I said, hurrying off.
If I got to her in time, she might yet remember
some past we might have had, in a nameless Welsh room.

©2004 by Jesse Ball. Reprinted with permission from Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.