Like the O in Hope
A Poetry Box SELECT title
by Jeanne Julian
The poems in Like the O in Hope take the reader on a journey, a quest from dark to light—both literally and spiritually. Beginning with hesitation and humility, Jeanne Julian transports us toward transcendence. As an accomplished poet, she weaves a myriad of poetic form from traditional to modern free verse, from sestina to chant, stopping to enjoy some lighter fare along the way: bemoaning a neighbor’s back-yard beacon; going AWOL from a boring seminar; even deliberately mistranslating directives from dictators to render them harmless. Gradually, revelations about the magic of place and of connection lead to contentment and even enlightenment and ends with a poem revealing how love can feel transcendent even with recognition of the finite.
About the Author
Jeanne Julian is the author of two chapbooks: Blossom and Loss (Longleaf Press) and Relic and Myth (Prolific Press). She moved with her husband to New Bern, NC, after retiring from a 27-year career in media relations and marketing at Westfield State University. She discovered that North Carolina is one of the worst states for hurricanes, but one of the best for writers. Her practice of poetry has been energized by some dynamic writers’ organizations there: the North Carolina Writers Network, the North Carolina Poetry Society (NCPS), Carteret Writers, Pamlico Writers Group, and the Nexus Poets’ open mic series, which she helps to coordinate. She is especially grateful for the Neuse River Writers whose critiques helped shape many of these poems.
Her poems appear in Prairie Wolf Press Review, Poetry Quarterly, Lascaux Prize 2016 Anthology, High Desert Journal, North Carolina Literary Review, pacificREVIEW, The RavensPerch, and other journals, and have won awards from The Comstock Review, Naugatuck River Review, and the NCPS.
She grew up in Ohio, graduated from Allegheny College, and earned an MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Jeanne is an enthusiastic photographer, and also practices yoga when not distracted by tennis, gardening, making omelets, and gazing at the creek and the national forest just beyond her back yard.
What They’re Saying…
In Like the O in Hope, Jeanne Julian shines her discerning eye on a world she refuses to experience in comfortable terms. Sometimes her beam is heavenly like sun; others icy like a laser. In the collection’s first poem, “The Owl Wonders,” her evolution from observer to participant takes shape: Do closed eyes ready it for coming night, the search for morsels? That’s how I hunt, too: in the dark.
These poems can be considered travel poems, but not in the conventional sense. The various locations and cultures are backdrops, the poet illuminating their lessons, yet, while geographical, they are also interpersonal. She reveals often-overlooked significance in the common occurrence, not as an intruder or tourist, but as an inquisitive member of any chosen environment or universe, and challenges herself scanning for associative relevance there. She chaperones us from cathedrals to open markets; from labyrinths to “No Man’s Land,” marking how we will owe survival to the feigned, to the risk and sanctity of close calls, to edges, margins.
Some journeys are closer to home. In “Threadbare,” she examines family relationships informing us, I want to be distraught. And I want evidence: are these inner chambers threadbare from caring, or its lack? Poem after poem, her command of poetics and language satisfies because, with her perceptions, she entices a reader to take these journeys with her in a valid search for kindness and beauty, for healing and hope. Spending time with Like the O in Hope will enlighten the soul – time well spent.
—Sam Barbee, author of That Rain We Needed;
past president, North Carolina Poetry Society
Reading Jeanne Julian’s first full length book Like the O in Hope, it’s obvious that the poet is also an acclaimed photographer. Not only are the poems rich in images and details, but as in photography, the light source is all important. In these poems, the light sources are varied and are what illuminate, enliven, and enervate our lives and our very beings. Julian knows that no extended meditation on what brings light to our lives would be complete without the lighter side of life, humor and laughter. She delivers this lightness with poems like “Solar Boy! with Frog.” I look forward to returning to these poems and already hold dear these lines from the final poem, “Just (us) In Time:” Our sacred time does not stand still. / Until our now, with its greening / patina, has passed, we will try / to make it shine. Shine on!
—Malaika King Albrecht, author of What the Trapeze Artist Trusts;
founding editor, Redheaded Stepchild