by Jessica Jones


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Traversing the sparse and sometimes rugged territory from Stevensville, Montana to the Flathead Indian Reservation, Bitterroot poignantly witnesses the complex intersections of Native and non-Native culture in Montana. A testament to the spirit of the land and those shaped by it, this collection reveals the ways in which the West remains both fraught with tension and modeled by beauty. Narrated by a young teacher with unexpected ties to the children in her classroom, each poem unfolds another layer of mountain life— from hauling wood and making fire to navigating a blizzard and grieving the loss of a student. Page by page, life presses closely against that which is raw and wild, lending individual moments a sense of urgency: “What I remember/ from Ovando, though, is stars. Stars and ice/ and the shock of our short inward breath.”

Attentive to a long tradition of tough Montana poets, Jessica Jones pays homage to giants such as Richard Hugo and James Welch while befriending contemporary writers like Jennifer Finley Greene and Robert Lee. A runner-up with Open Country Press and honorable mention with Cutbank at University of Montana, Bitterroot is essential for any avid reader of Western literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781635348859
Publisher: Finishing Line Press
Publication date: 03/22/2019
Series: New Women's Voices Series , #143
Pages: 46
Sales rank: 1,083,945
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.11(d)

About the Author

Jessica Jones has been teaching Art and English in K-12 and college settings for over 15 years. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Journal of the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning (2014), the Ohio Journal of Language Arts (2014), Poems Across the Big Sky II: An Anthology of Montana Poets (Many Voices Press, 2016), Bright Bones (Open Country Press, 2018) and NCTE's English Journal (2018). She also presents at regional and national conferences and has served as Writer in Residence for Calcutta Mercy Hospital in India, and with the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. She is currently full-time faculty at Kent State University at Stark, where she teaches poetry, creative writing, and composition courses that focus on diversity and social justice. She can be reached at and at

Table of Contents

Preface 1


St. Mary’s Mission 2

Ghosts 3

Honeymoon 4

Saturday Night Bluegrass at the Methodist Church 5

Pablo Transfer Station 6

Field Trip 7

Boarding Schools 8

Woodstove 9

New Girl 10

Ovando Christmas Pageant 11

Coyote Classroom 13

Hauling Wood 14

Valentine’s Dance 15

Paddling Mission Dam 17

Fish Tacos at Claire’s 18


Driving Lake County 19

Big Dipper Ice Cream, Missoula 20

Outlaws 21

Fire Road Trail, Missoula 22

Marginalia 23

Canal Boys 24

.22 25

Power Outage 26

Winter Festival 27

North Star 28

White Out 30

Indian Blankets 31

Compass 32

Red Moon Girl 33

When falling, dive 34

Bitterroot 35

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