Book cover, a painted image depicting a woman looking up at moth with large eye patterns on its wings. Girl in a Bear Suit, Poems, Jen Jabaily-Blackburn

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Praise for Girl in a Bear Suit

“Jen Jabaily-Blackburn’s Girl in a Bear Suit effervesces with wit, imagination, and sheer verve. Here are poems that dare to revel in multiplicities, embracing our transformations as ongoing and likely synchronous and flaunting language that finds in restlessness the heart’s inherent intelligence. The woman is a bear and the bear is a woman and all are beasts and all are stars in the night sky of this dazzling first book. When the poet writes: “I woke up brilliant in a forest,” I believe her and you should too.”

- Jennifer Chang

“In Girl in a Bear Suit, her dazzling debut collection, Jen Jabaily-Blackburn wrestles with Ovid’s Callisto, the girl whose punishment for her own rape was to be turned into a bear, landing her in our current moment, with a Jupiter who “LIKES BEER” and “presents a calendar that doesn’t actually say “harm Callisto” anywhere.” With keen insight, genuine humor, and heat-seeking playfulness, the poems in this collection travel far, creating their own propulsive force, going beyond what it means to be a victim (or a woman, or a bear, for that matter) and getting to the heart of what it means to be a human.”

- Carrie Fountain

“Flip through this book until you come across a title that grabs you. That won’t be difficult. “Love Poem for Seven Starlings,” “Bodies Becoming Other Bodies,” “Callisto: crash course for one who’s never lived as a human woman,” “Sugar Snow,” “Ars Poetica: As Many as Bones in the Human Body,” “Look, Little Donkeys,” ... I mean, come on! Then start reading and enter the playful, dramatic, wonderfully poetic world of Jen Jabaily-Blackburn’s Girl in a Bear Suit.”

- Christopher Citro

Jen Jabaily-Blackburn

Jen Jabaily-Blackburn’s first book of poems, Girl in a Bear Suit, was selected by Christopher Citro as winner of the 2023 Elixir Press Annual Poetry Prize and will be released in April 2024. Her work has appeared in or is coming soon from SIR, Arkansas International, Palette Poetry, Salamander, Fugue, Banshee, On the Seawall, Couplet Poetry, Indiana Review, The Common, and Massachusetts Review, among others. Her poems have twice been selected for Best New Poets. She is at work on a series of mixed-media pieces, hem, drawn from The Metamorphoses of Ovid. Originally from the Boston area, she now lives in Western Massachusetts with her family. In 2024, she joined the advisory board of Perugia Press, and she is an associate editor of Nine Syllables Press, housed at Smith College, where she is the Program & Outreach coordinator for the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center.

Photo of poet Jen Jabaily-Blackburn, smiling and posed casually with one arm propped up on the bench.


See Published Works for a full listing of publications.