Jehanne Dubrow is a prolific poet whose work is visceral and rich with the language of the senses. Her sixth book of poems, Dots & Dashes, won the 2016 Crab Orchard Review Series in Poetry Open Competition Award and will be published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2017. In her work, what lingers in absence becomes something obsessed over. “For weeks, I breathed his body in the sheet. / He was bitter incense paired with something sweet,” she writes in the villanelle titled “The Long Deployment.” These lines are emblematic of her work in their meditation on how one reconciles longing with the physical memory of the beloved.
In the past eight years, Dubrow has published five poetry collections, two anthologies, directed a writing center, and founded the journal Cherry Tree. Both Stateside, her third book, and The Arranged Marriage, her fifth, meditate on the problem of communication in marriage and relationships. Stateside delves into the mythic history of women longing for their beloveds in war time. The Arranged Marriage examines, instead, the tyranny of a marriage. These threads weave their way into her newest book, Dots and Dashes, a sequel to Stateside.
Dubrow recently joined the faculty at the University of North Texas. This past fall, I took her poetry workshop and thoroughly enjoyed our discussions on craft, composing a manuscript, and contemporary poetry. In our interview, we discuss the role of the poet in the current political landscape, our obsessions, and what inspires us, as well as how she has managed to stay prolific.