The Pact

by Jennifer Militello


Jennifer Militello is one of the finest poets of her generation, an immensely original poet who has enriched American literature since her first book.” —Charles Simic

“Militello has a natural flair for rhyme, complemented by nearly flawless rhythm; the poems beg to be read aloud… there is an inventive musicality to Militello’s language that’s easy to enjoy.” —Publisher’s Weekly

Published: May 2021
Format: Paperback

Add to Cart

Out of stock

ISBN: 978-1-946482-47-1 Categories: , Tag:

Jennifer Militello is one of the finest poets of her generation,
an immensely original poet who has enriched American literature since her first book.”
—Charles Simic

“What a beautiful book of songs, pacts, spells, love poems, chants, pledges, odes! Such lyric abandon here, and also such deep lyric knowledge. Knowledge of what? you might ask. Of how bodies can ‘lengthen in rain’ and how an hour might become ‘a moth-eaten stain.’ ‘I keep my binoculars focused on / the past field,’ this poet says, ‘something might arrive / to coax the present field from its ghost.’ This kind of coaxing is most welcome. It isn’t the knowledge of past or foreknowledge. No. It is the lyric knowledge. To achieve it, one must go sideways, speak in tongues. ‘I promise you fraud,’ Militello tells us in one of her love poems. But then, if a reader is lucky enough to find a poet as talented as Jennifer Militello, one might as well use her own words, and, opening the book, say: ‘I promise to let you / brainwash me.’ Why? Because this is, indeed, a beautiful book.

—Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic and Dancing in Odessa

“Militello’s signature wrenched and wrenching metaphors – stunningly original, somewhat reminiscent of Donne – shock us, unlikely comparison by unlikely comparison, into ways of re-seeing things we know but may prefer to suppress for the sake of getting through the day, or perhaps for the sake of preserving our sanity. Being superficially safe or nice, however, is not Militello’s modus operandi. Provocation is.” —Catherine Imbriglio in Green Mountains Review

“Militello’s language… is largely an exquisite example of the modern gothic: shadowy, beset by menacing weather and violent feelings, and positively bewitching.” —Publishers Weekly

“Jennifer Militello’s The Pact is full of intimate insights into family dynamics… these poems demonstrate how, for the poet, love is biological—a reflex of the body, an act of self-protection, and a physical need.”

—Rebecca Ruth Gold for Harriet Books, Poetry Foundation

“Militello makes order out of chaos sentence after sounding sentence, and succeeds in helping us at least try to understand human frailties.” —Booklist

“Militello’s poems… illuminate and mystify.” —The Rumpus

In her newest collection, award-winning poet and memoirist Jennifer Militello confronts obsession, intimacy, and abuse. Through love poems inspired by such disparate spaces as a British art museum and the reptile house of a local zoo, poems comparing a romantic affair to the religious cult at Jonestown and a mother’s role to a Congolese power figure bristling with nails, The Pact offers an indictment against affection and a portent against zeal. This book places pleasure alongside pain, even as it delivers Militello’s trademark talent for innovation and ritualization of the strange.

Jennifer Militello is the author of Knock Wood, winner of the Dzanc Nonfiction Prize (Dzanc Books, 2019), as well as four previous collections of poetry: A Camouflage of Specimens and Garments (Tupelo Press, 2016), called “positively bewitching” by Publishers WeeklyBody Thesaurus (Tupelo Press, 2013), named one of the top books of 2013 by Best American PoetryFlinch of Song, winner of the Tupelo Press First Book Award, and the chapbook Anchor Chain, Open Sail. Her work has appeared widely in such journals as American Poetry ReviewThe NationThe New RepublicThe Paris ReviewPOETRY, and Tin House, and been anthologized in Best American PoetryBest New Poets, and Poem-a-Day: 365 Poems for Every Occasion. Militello teaches in the MFA program at New England College.

Additional information

Weight 0.4 lbs
Dimensions 6.84 × 9.84 in

Click here to access a suite of curricular materials for The Pact, courtesy of Sean Cho Ayres.

To Whom Are We Speaking With