American Academy of Arts Citation
Josephine Jacobsen's quietly articulated observations have the dark resonance of great art. Her spare diction combines the passionate commitment of Louise Bogan with the precision and compactness of Elizabeth Bishop and Marianne Moore. Her best work, done in her seventies and eighties, has won her almost every major poetry award.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
One turns to Jacobsen's poems not for flashy, egotistical juggling, but as to an old friend, for her dependable, philosophical voice, rich in technique and free from clich. She imagines eliminating the ``monosyllable love'' from our language in the hope that someone ``will enunciate a syllable/ of force'' to replace it. ``What small/ metaphors we set/ ourselves,'' she laments elsewhere, and in poem after poem proves this need not be the case. Her gaze is often directed outward, sighting the estranged or deformed: clowns with highly individualized sorrows, deaf-mutes watching baseball. Whatever handicaps these subjects bear don't generate pity; if anyone seems deficient it will be the reader. Because her poems don't fall into easily recognizable categories- political, confessional, nature, or even formalist poetry (though she writes well in her share of forms)-Jacobsen is seldom anthologized. Yet her work has withstood the test of time better than many of her more-often-read contemporaries from the 1940s and 1950s. Her latest poems are modern and forceful. (June)
Brings together 176 new and previously published poems (1935-1994) by the distinguished American poet who in 1994 was awarded an American Academy of the Arts Citation. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The collected poems of a greatly gifted poet may not offer the suspense of a well-plotted novel, but there is still a certain drama in seeing the art of a life's work fitted between the covers of one book... The recent poems that make up the last section are some of Jacobsen's very best.
New York Times
Josephine Jacobsen's poetry... demonstrates not only scrupulous verbal craft but a kind of auditory seriousness, a preference for depth and precision over mere charm or beauty."
Josephine Jacobsen's mind is exquisite and urbane, which is not to say that it has confined itself to salon conversation or academic discourse... Formal and fastidious, Jacobsen meditates on deathoh, not because she herself is aging, nothing even faintly vulgar like thatbecause of her apprehension of our fleshly frailty.
San Francisco Review of Books
Wry, meticulous, compassionate, she casts her diaphanous net over the widest range of subjects, from the dailiness of breakfast with the morning paper ('I spill coffee on a head of state') to the distant apocalypse when the cockroach ('he will be blind/not sterile') inherits the earth.
Parnassus: Poetry in Review
Healthful and pure, protein and green salad for the mind.
Josephine Jacobsen writes masterfully, consistently, and better every year. She has a superb narrative gift and she sketches the people of her world with originality, inventiveness, and rare intelligence.