Book: Missing Persons
The opening poems of Missing Persons, Hilary S. Jacqmin's lyrical first collection, explore the streetcar suburbs of Northern Ohio through a series of comic and caustic vignettes. The book's second half intersects with the larger world to consider questions of empire, loss, and autonomy. Moving through time and between places and personas, the poems shift from imperial India to post-meltdown Chernobyl to Sabbathday Lake, the last active Shaker community. An abandoned sideshow fat lady mourns her lost love. The vanished poet Weldon Kees, presumed dead, reemerges in the frozen Midwest. And an alienated Jughead Jones searches for meaning in modern-day, food-obsessed Japan. Richly detailed, linguistically deft, and employing both formal and free verse, Missing Persons is a dazzling debut.
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Praise for Missing Persons
- “Missing Persons is one of the best debut poetry collections that I’ve read in years. Jacqmin’s poems are richly varied in syntax, diction, and form. They’re also funny, and at times surprisingly hard-edged—but whether Jacqmin is writing about dry drunks, a fastidious Latin teacher, or a grown-up Jughead adrift in Tokyo, she never allows herself to affect an attitude of being superior to her subject matter. Instead, she patiently, faithfully seeks out real mysteries and works to articulate them in all their strangeness.” – James Arthur
- “I admire the intelligent ultra talk of Hilary Jacqmin’s virtuosic and revealing poems. A full life is lived on these pages, and it flickers with light and dark.” – Henri Cole
- “In Missing Persons, memory is a cabinet of curiosities filled with tiny figures carved from bone, scimitars, ticking oven timers, sugar skulls. These are poems that teach us how the ordinary may be transformed; a nightgown stained with rabbit urine becomes ‘yellow shantung,’ a beer gut ‘softly beautiful,’ women’s bodies ‘curved like wine bottles.’ Jacqmin has a particular gift for portraits in miniature. Young loves, Girl Scouts, sex ed teachers, a father, a mother—all are rendered lovely and interesting through the delicate treatment of the imagination. And, as with any wunderkammer, we want to return to the glimmering rooms of these poems again and again, discovering each time we visit something new to hold and behold.” – Jehanne Dubrow
- “Jacqmin’s poetry displays a wonderfully rich diction that conveys her keen eye for defining detail. Always in the mix there is her agile wit, typically gentle but mischievous too. Sometimes things are darker, but then compassionate too. Jacqmin’s world ranges from a mostly predictable upper Midwest, to arresting scenes in art and literature, to the Russia of Chernobyl, to the seaport dives of downtown Baltimore. In all of these settings there are characters who choose their paths by accident or misconception, bumping their ways along as we do and continuing in ways we admire. There is a wised-up kindness and exuberance to this work that makes Jacqmin’s poems the best of company, well-spoken guests always invited back.” – Wyatt Prunty