If “America” is a nation of enthusiasts (for good or ill), the poems in this book can be thought of as their anthems. The adventurer, the speculator, the minister, the naturalist, the bandit, the mother—all have some purchase here. Starting from the notion of the ode as “a poem sung by a chorus,” these poems campaign for a heroic “voice of history” spoken by individuals. The resulting tensions, between prose and poetic lines, between narrative and song, are revealed in the anxiety of genre: the ode turns into epic; the song turns into jeremiad; the master narrative is cut short by the hired hand going about her business. Throughout, regular people get to act in their own epic situations as global events lumber in the background.”
In addition to Enthusiasm, Jean Day is the author of many books of poetry, most recently Late Human (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2021), The Triumph of Life (Insurance Editions, 2018), and Daydream (Litmus Press, 2017). She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she has worked for many years in various aspects of small press and academic publishing.
Adventures in Poetry began publishing in 1968 as a mimeographed “little magazine,” and continued through 1976 with individual pamphlets, featuring work by Ted Berrigan, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Bernadette Mayer, Frank O’Hara, James Schuyler, John Ashbery, Anne Waldman, and many others. After a long hiatus, it began publishing books by established and new innovative writers that are available exclusively through Zephyr Press.
Enthusiasm: Odes & Otium
Enthusiasm: Odes & Otium
“Enthusiasm is wonder---a volume so richly conceived and so compendious in its rambling through fields of reason (what romance!) that I find it impossible to condense the grounds for my admiration for this book (deep and certain though it is) into the few words that a blurb provides room for. I have in the past thought of Jean Day as a spare writer---a writer who, like such fellow New Englanders as Emily Dickenson and Robert Creeley, chooses her phrases meticulously and uses no more words than are necessary---but this is anything but a spare book. The work is divided into two parts, the first descriptively titled “Odes” and the second “Otium,” a Latin word meaning peace, ease, repose, which occurs as a leitmotif in one of Horace’s most famous odes. The Odes are celebratory, at least to the degree that skepticism can rejoice. They are also, as musings on the troubled (and troubling) world, suffused with the adventurer’s perplexity: curiosity and doubt. The two long sequences that comprise “Otium” respond to perplexity, not by providing answers but by rallying the will. With Enthusiasm sensibility and intelligence triumph. This is truly a great book.” — Lyn Hejinia
“Jean Day’s Enthusiasm: Odes & Otium is a primer of the onomastically uncontainable, its texts perturbatively rocking constructions, their time kept by the sound of one hand sketching. In this stopping place (Dudeville, where “green thought, made thought”), Whitman’s obstetrician finds the hay miraculously transformed: here is meat and drink for those who tire of living hand by foot, bonafide life for those who despair of locating poetry’s pulse.”— Miles Champion