Mimi's Trapeze

Mimi's Trapeze

by J. Allyn Rosser


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Rosser’s poems have always given a squinty sideways glance at cultural foibles and assumptions. Her distinctive brand of cheery skepticism implies that the genuine pursuit of truth is a virtue that renders tolerable the intolerable. These poems achieve a lyricism that gives free reign to the lush energies of language while remaining transparent enough to communicate something precise, fresh, and unsettling.

A driving force behind the poems in Mimi’s Trapeze is Rosser’s profound curiosity about all forms and conditions of life. Without distorting fact or motive, her speakers seek to navigate the mazes of our messy quotidian infelicities, ranging from imperfect love to squashing turtles on the road—from the history of artistic misrepresentations of women to global warming—attempting to calibrate the beautifully complex balance between desire and responsibility.

This collection dwells more on mortality and the lamentable state of the planet (and the spiritual unsoundness of its denizens) than her previous work. Another new vein can be traced in several poems that seek to distill a state like adolescence into a single word (“Dyahe”), reduce vast movements and disciplines into epigrammatic nutshells (Miniature Histories of the World”), or isolate a condition like grief in an element as simple as salt (“After the Service, the Widow Considers the Etymology of Salary”).

In Mimi’s Trapeze, her fourth book, Rosser takes a lighthearted view of dark subjects (see “Final Invitation”), and a dark view of light ones (“Intro to Happiness”). She has refined her vision, reaffirming her belief that poetry is the most direct and effective way for humans to alleviate their loneliness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822963158
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 08/08/2014
Series: Pitt Poetry Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

J. Allyn Rosser is the author of three previous poetry collections: Foiled Again, Misery Prefigured, and Bright Moves. She is the recipient of numerous awards, most recently the New Criterion Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Lannan Foundations. Rosser is associate professor of English at Ohio University and is editor in chief of New Ohio Review.

Table of Contents


Gym Dance with the Doors Wide Open 3

Girl I Never Spoke to in High School 4

Dyahe 5

Sore ga, doshita 7

Kindergarten Field Trip 8

The Shell 10

Shoptalk 12

Impromptu 13

What Do You Want from Me? 14

Night Drive 15

Mimi's Trapeze 16

Refusal of a Lifetime 21

Vestigial 22


As If 25

Housing the Id 26

The Five Facets of Love 27

Let's Face the Music and Dance 29

Rodin: Crouching Woman 31

Judith Bearing the Head of Holofernes 32

Criminal Statues 36

Interview: Performance Artist in Helsinki 37

Museum 38

Miniature Histories of the World 39

Justice Question #412 41

How Like the Heart the Thumb 42


Pelicans in December 45

After the Service, the Widow Considers the Etymology of Salary 46

Listless 47

Heart's Desire 48

Exchanges 49

Just Now 50

Beeline Eclogue 51

Cemetery Seen from Above 53

Boxes 54

The Widow Slightly Revises Her Recipe for Chicken Soup 56

Weekend at Trish's 58

Final Invitation 60


Intro to Happiness 63

You've Got It Made 65

Ode to Loss 67

Jill's Apology 69

Ode 70

Summer Olympics Look 73

Soul Transaction Subtotal 74

(This Line Intentionally Left Blank) 75

Self Pith 76

Ambitions Futilities 77

Before the Ink Can Dry 78

The Book of Blots 79


In the Middle of the Old Man's Talk 83

New York Fix 84

Polaris Mall 86

Final Proof 87

Swan Song of the Last Believer 89

The Lake Isle of Shamrock.com 90

Sonnet Predicting the End of the World, with Bumper Stickers 91

Quake 92

Angel Junkman at All Souls' Abyss 94

Getting There 95

Children's Children Speech 96

Acknowledgments 99

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Mimi's Trapeze 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Leslie_Lytle More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading Jill Alynn Rosser’s new collection of poems, MIMI’S TRAPEZE. Rosser should receive an award for this book. It’s not only her most engaging collection to date. MIMI’S TRAPEZE stands out as one of the best collections I’ve made the acquaintance of in some time. The poems are fresh, poignant, brave and stunningly honest, sometimes acerbic, sometimes funny, sometimes sarcastic and almost always push the reader to think more deeply. “Memorable works of art should seem finished to the eye, but unfinished to the mind and heart,” so says Mark Irwin in an essay I read recently, and that description speaks well for MIMI’S TRAPEZE. Rosser’s sense of metaphor is exquisite, while at the same time MIMI’S TRAPEZE almost reads like a novel. Rosser’s done a great job in her choice of arranging the poems within the volume. Personal favorites—“Judith Holding the Head,” “Ode to Loss,” and “Ambitions Futilities.” As with a great novel, when I got to the end I wanted more.