Slip by Jenny Bates
"Jenny Bates’ second collection Slip couldn’t be more aptly titled. Her poems slip between what is real and imagined, between life and death, between what we think of as wild versus cultivated, fusing these polarities to show them for what they really are—inseparable and, ultimately, one and the same. Reading her work is an ecstatic kind of slipping, as into a dream, but one guided by a deeply intelligent hand that has paid deep attention to the world. Constantly recording and deciphering the hieroglyphics and songs of the forests of her Appalachian home, Bates presses her ear to the 'bent twig alphabet, language of twist-mist / language of animals patterning' to make a collection ripe with language both human and non-. The gift of these poems is the proof that it’s not possible, not really, to separate ourselves from this earth or its creatures."
"In Slip Jenny Bates revives the visionary tradition in poetry. You have not read anything like this book. You have not taken this trip. Bates is a brave, forceful woman and a bold seer. Her quirky, inimitable poems sweep you around the window dressing of reality into a world of the spirit. In subjects as varied as lovers, baseball, and snakes, she reveals startling correspondences. Many of her vigorous lines deserve to be aphorisms. She's incisive enough to perceive that 'Age is a precise surveyor, not a landscape painter' and wry enough to tell us, 'I have a degree in the university of creatures.' That distinction is verified by her stunning poems about animals, especially dogs. Of the countless elegies I have read about departed pets, Bates' 'Primary Pit,' dramatizing her encounter with a stray dog on its last legs, takes the laurels and makes renowned poets mere contenders. Bates is known as an animal whisperer, and Slip will show you why. Her insight into creatures here and the nature of things in realms beyond will give you second sight."
"In Slip Jenny Bates continues the sensitive observations of nature found in her collection 'Visitations.' Summer has turned to fall and to winter, bringing a darker side to the world around us and to the poet's reflections on life and death. In poems such as 'Abide,' Bates find solace in the enormity of the universe, while in others, such as 'The Wild,' she explores the irony of finding beauty in the death and suffering brought about, then celebrated by, humanity. 'It's a beautiful idea: Climate Change. It turns all species into bread and wine.' In the next poem, 'Acceleration of the Universe,' Bates wonders if God might be like an Aardvark, seeking shelter then sleeping and dreaming ...'its future without all us us.' She continues that theme in 'Fame Looks Bother Ways,' when she asks, 'When recognizable earth fails to be the jewel of the universe, will it turn to poetry?' Bates isn't always contemplating the large picture. In Slip, the title poem, she considers the death of a mother opossum and her five unborn children. In 'No One Sleeps,' she gives us a very personal reflection on the slow death of her mother. Jenny Bates has used careful cultural references from Greek history to Christianity, along with meticulous word choice, to create a collection of poems that will stay with its readers long after the book is put down."
If the world's humanity had the same love, respect and connection to the animal kingdom as author Jenny Bates, 2020 would be a much different year. In Slip, Bates smiles bravely at the night because she has written a book that speaks of ignorance, happiness and exhaustion beneath a delicate light shining on empty ruins. It is an exercise in finding what Camu reveals in his own writing, (to speak) "...with a lipless mouth...learn one last time what I know." If one were to say this book is about love, sorrow, letting go, even letting go of change, the critique would be incomplete. Instead, it is about a little deaf, black pup who taught Bates,
"I am Nothing. (and) By becoming this, his true eyes became a solid ground to walk."
We would say to each other "There is Nothing like you, there was Nothing like you, and there shall be Nothing like you."
When I slipped, he let me fall then took that solid ground with him to place under another's steps.
Yet he left me able to see in that dark. '
Slip joins Bates 2019 publication, Visitations (Hermit Feathers Press), as a work of profound observation of two souls joined, though parted, will never truly slip eternal bonds.
Jenny Bates, born and raised in Michigan, resides as poet in the foothills of North Carolina. She is a member of Winston-Salem Writers, NC Poetry Society,and the NC Writers' Network. She has three published books, Opening Doors: an equilog of poetry about Donkeys (Lulu Publishing, Raleigh, NC), Coyote with Coffee (Catbird on the Yadkin Press, Tobaccoville, NC). Both books reside in the collections of Libraries and Universities (Vanderbilt and the University of Vermont) in the United States and England, and Visitations (Hermit Feathers Press, Clemmons, NC). North Carolina School of the Arts displays her poem, "A Bluebird Heart for Aaron Shearer" as a tribute to the Classic Guitar master. Her work has also been published in Flying South, Winston-Salem Writers premier literary work. She is a consecutive contributing poet in the Winston-Salem Writers series Poetry in Plain Sight, and in 2017, she was a top 10 Finalist in the Press 53 Single Poem Contest. On the 100th Anniversary of WWI, she was asked to write poetry launching a website dedicated to the history and contributions of Donkeys and Mules during WWI. These poems now reside in the archives of the Animals in War memorial in London. Her poetry is a reflection of her philosophy of life: All humans have learned about being human by what we have gained from observing our fellow animals. With a much longer history than humans, animals have learned perhaps not to accept, but to respect their differences. Her work has been published in Wild Goose Poetry Review, Old Mountain Press, and Hermit Feathers Review. Jenny's poetry has appeared in laJoie 2017- 2019, a quarterly publication of Animals' Peace Garden, dedicated to promoting appreciation for all beings. In 2019, her poem "Fame Looks Both Ways" was included in the Walt Whitman Bicentennial Celebration for publication in Poets to Come. Her online publications include As It Ought To Be Magazine, Poetry That Sustains Us, Word Doodles Literary Magazine, Poetica Publishing's Mizmor Anthology 2020. Jenny currently volunteers as animal whisperer and helping hand at Plum Granny Farm, an organic local farm in Stokes County, North Carolina.