Jason Labbe’s second full length collection, Maps for Jackie, picks up the trail where Spleen Elegy leaves off and ventures further and farther. Tracking and tracing the bewildering intersection of the natural world and the synthetic one, the analog past and the programmed future, and the self in the face of the literal tornado barreling out of nowhere, these poems discover and explore the locus between crisis and beauty, interior and landscape, here and there.
Poetry’s natural habitat is one of detail, radiant or tarnished, an intimate geography that draws us close to where presence is an act of perception: world into word. In Maps for Jackie, Jason Labbe navigates a terrain of singular encounters and incidents, tactile, luminous and animated by the sensuous abrasions and comforts of the heartmind as they touch down on his, and our, present: white leaf is like a moth / wing I’d fix to her shoulder.—Ann Lauterbach
How indeed, in a fraught and decentered world, can one “map the illegible?” A world where all things oscillate between the light and the dark? Where the inner life and the outer life struggle toward reconciliation, or at least some semblance of balance? Where the subsurface of “any residential neighborhood” harbors sexual/textual tensions that threaten the very means of communication? To address, or make manifest, such questions, and their attendant passions, Labbe employs a radically expressionistic and often disjunctive language that defies our commonplace methods of observation and perception. Here the map and the territory engage in a contention that is both surprising and enlightening to witness.—Michael Palmer
Jason Labbe’s wonderfully moving and inventive collection Maps for Jackie is an open journey into desire and its fathomlessness. Though the poems dislocate between something and nothing, it’s a loving ride where “waking finds / morning the inmost warp / in space time.” The book is filled with impeccable craft. It’s a terrific work and worth the trip. I’m on board.—Peter Gizzi