The Body is No Machine
Winner of the 2008 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Poetry
“Jennifer Perrine is a poet of formal agility and surprise, with a command of language that ranges from the spare to the luxuriously rampant, from the scientific to the ecstatic. The Body Is No Machine—indeed! Here we see the sensual body in all its chameleon shades of gender and passion. These poems are exact, intelligent, vivid, thrilling—a first book to admire, and a poet to watch.”
“Seduced by words, this poet thinks with her whole body. Gender bends so far the barriers between us and within us shift and change. Each molting adult in these poems flits like ‘a luminaria guttering in the wind.’ Music, art, genetics, family, and myth samba together, this life a dance called ‘survival of the mutant most fit.’ With great brio and wit, Jennifer Perrine’s universe expands, explodes, excites.
What do we value in a body? Who should live and who should die? Why? These poems ask essential questions about our bodies of assumptions, individual and cultural. These poems make room for our faults and scars, our flaws and errors. Death, that older man it’s easy to fall for, can at any time have any body he wants. But these poems, generous and tough, sing to us anyway, and wake in us the legless Peruvian lizards of possibility.”
“Jennifer Perrine’s The Body Is No Machine astonishes us with its deft balance of the sensual and the intellectual. DNA encodes ‘the soft, deliquescent/ contours’ of the self, which in love twists into ‘gargoyle, cockatrice, glowing benthic/ animal’ (“Coda, Codex, Codon”). The artichoke-‘impenetrable’ flower with ‘translucent tongues’-is the new, indeterminable identity box to check on forms (“Gender Question #2”). In these lusciously languaged poems, Perrine is as grimly witty in grief as in joy, and The Body Is No Machineis a dazzling debut collection.”
“From humor to sexuality, classic poetic forms to imagined encounters, Perrine’s poems, like the titles in her first book, titillate, surprise, and amuse—generally in the space of a few lines. . . . The book contains six sections. In the first, a dirt-eating mother appears, a cannibalistic fetus, and a dog-mauled daughter. Each poem engages the gullet, consumption, violence, but in the midst of the struggle, the words are graceful.”
—Camille-Yvette Welsch, Foreword Magazine
“Jennifer Perrine’s work is an astoundingly layered, connected book of poems, regardless of the fact that it is her first book. To see an emerging poet with such a sharpened, well rounded skill-set is an absolute rarity. The Body Is No Machine has set the bar high for what is sure to be a career to watch unfold.”
—Cameron Conaway, RATTLE e-review
“The poems in Jennifer Perrine’s first book, The Body is No Machine, are muscular, hard working poems . . . many require intense and sustained engagement offer several readings before they yield much more than the shimmering surface of Perrine’s beautiful precise language.”
—Laura Newton, Apalachee Review #58
Jennifer Perrine holds degrees in Religion, Art, English, and Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in various journals, including Bellingham Review, Green Mountains Review, Nimrod, River Styx, and Southern Poetry Review, among others. She lives in Des Moines, Iowa, and teaches writing, gender studies, and Holocaust studies at Drake University.