Jeanne Larsen

Jeanne Larsen (Fiction, Poetry, Translation) | Roanoke, VA

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Jeanne Larsen’s latest guilty pleasure is Homer’s Odyssey. Her new book, What Penelope Chooses: poems (2019), won the Cider Press Review Book Award. Her other poetry books are Why We Make Gardens, and James Cook in Search of Terra Incognita, an AWP award series winner. She has also published two collections of translated poems by medieval Chinese women (Brocade River Poems and Willow, Wine, Mirror, Moon) and four novels, as well as essays and short fiction. She was the inaugural Jackson Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University and lives in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley.

Books

What Penelope Chooses: Poems (Cider Press Review, 2019). Cider Press Review Book Award. Poetry.

Why We Make Gardens [& Other Poems] (Mayapple Press, 2010). Poetry.

Sally Paradiso: a Novel (Brown Fedora Books, 2009). Novel. Fiction.

Willow, Wine, Mirror, Moon: Women’s Poems from Tang China (BOA Editions, 2005). Translation. Poetry.

Manchu Palaces: a novel (Henry Holt & Co., October 1996, and others, including Authors Guild/iUniverse 2009). Novel. Fiction.

Bronze Mirror (Henry Holt & Co 1991, and others, including Authors Guild/iUniverse 2009). Novel. Fiction.

Silk Road: a novel of eighth-century China (Henry Holt & Co. 1989, and others, including Authors Guild/iUniverse 2009). Novel. Fiction.

Brocade River Poems: Selected Works of the Tang Dynasty Courtesan Xue Tao (Princeton University Press, 1987). Translation. Poetry.

James Cook in Search of Terra Incognita: A Book of Poems (University Press of Virginia, 1979). Associated Writing Programs Poetry Series. Poetry.

Blurbs, Press, & Reviews

WHAT PENELOPE CHOOSES

In What Penelope Chooses, Jeanne Larsen does what she has done throughout her body of written work and as a teacher: she enables female voices to have a say…. She fuses history, myth, and modernity to help us better understand the context of our own stories and times. Reading Larsen’s poetry makes us sharper thinkers and more empathic hearts, better able to seek out that which has not heretofore been said.

—Marissa Mazek, “Weaving Women’s Voiices: Jeanne Larsen’s Poetry and Fiction” in the Hollins Critic Vol.LVI, No. 2 (April, 2019)

“A playful love of language shines through in Larsen’s work, as does a sense of urgency and appeal. In this volume, “no man” is at again at peril in the poems’ interrogation of the story and its teller….What Penelope Chooses revisits the world of the Odyssey, but now the silent are given voice…well, commanded it. It’s exciting, head-spinning stuff, and these poems can quickly renew your interest in the Greeks.”

—Doug Jackson, Book City Roanoke

WHY WE MAKE GARDENS [& OTHER POEMS)

“Densely packed and yet wholly accessible, Why We Make Gardens is a thriving garden of words: Larsen’s poems interlace, blossom, and push softly but irrevocably into the mind, sure to return again in subtle and significant ways.”

—William Wright, James Dickey Review

“Larsen’s work captivates with its prismatic look at the word ‘garden,’ revealing all of the intricacies and possibilities of the word.”

—Renee Emerson, New Pages

SALLY PARADISO: A NOVEL

“a thought-provoking treat for book lovers and a laugh-out-loud delight!”

—Jim DeFilippi

WILLOW, WINE, MIRROR, MOON: WOMEN’S POEMS FROM TANG CHINA

“By far the best book of Chinese poetry in translation of the new century…. Jeanne Larsen is the first ‘Western’ scholar / translator to honor the work of her Chinese predecessors, to leave the collection un-colonialized, and her decision to do so yields her audience a book full of truly interesting, and sometimes deeply moving, insights into the life of women in China more than a thousand years ago…I don’t think there is a mediocre, much less a bad line in the book,…making every single line a completely new experience of excellent, no, make that exciting, new poetry.”

—J. P. Seaton, Pleiades

“Jeanne Larsen combines a scholar’s thoroughness with a poet’s lyricism….In addition to poems of political intrigue, loss, and intense loneliness, this volume includes playfully frank lyrics that revel in women’s sexual agency and pleasure….Although these translations are quite accessible to any reader who would rather not work through notes, Larsen’s deft contextualization of each poem and of the collection in general make this volume a real find for teacher unacquainted with Chinese poetry. A labor of love…”

—Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Calyx

MANCHU PALACES: A NOVEL

“A luminous, self-contained, fluid world in which history, legend, and a religious quest create a portrait of an age….An exemplary novelist again makes history a playful parade of personalities, period details, and ordinary people conscripted by the times.”

Kirkus Reviews

“The most remarkable feature of Ms. Larsen’s novels is her complex and subtle narrative method. Writing out of an impressive knowledge of Chinese history and culture, she makes exposition part of the narrative, interweaving sections of myth, storytelling, invented scholarly essays, and philosophical meditation, each related to the central story….Manchu Palaces is a magical book.”

—Delia Sherman, The New York Review of Science Fiction

BRONZE MIRROR

“A dazzling extension of the author’s Silk Road–not a sequel but a reprise, with new casting, of Larsen’s time-riddling, worlds-whirling magical show….A quite special pleasure.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“No picture could possibly do justice to this rich, shimmering tapestry that playfully entwines both the heavenly and human realms….Bronze Mirror, with its whimsical melding of myth and history, is not only a captivating novel but also a provocative comment on the art of storytelling.”

—Nancy Pate, The Orlando Sentinel

SILK ROAD: A NOVEL OF EIGHTH CENTURY CHINA

“Larsen has used a dazzling diversity of prose styles to adroitly demonstrate how history is transmuted through the centuries into something not quite true, yet not entirely false. In the process, she treats readers to an illuminating and absorbing story.”

Publishers Weekly

“This first novel accommodates much merriment, and moments of sadness and joy, as this feminist tale of mother- and sister-bonding draws together….Silk Road, in its prodigal layering of narratives, projects the theme of the artist as inventor of history.”

—Edna Stumpf, The New York Times

BROCADE RIVER POEMS: SELECTED WORKS OF THE TANG DYNASTY COURTESAN XUE TAO

“Jeanne Larsen’s translations of 68 poems by Xue Tao will delight readers by their clarity and beauty, and draw admiring sighs from any of us who have struggled to make a Chinese verse work as poetry in English….What Larsen does so superbly is to bring out [the original lines’] asymmetrical rhythm, such that we understand subvocally the cadence of the originals…. Brocade River Poems engage us as fine poetry should, while staying remarkably faithful to the texts.”

—Cynthia Chennault, Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews

“Larsen’s book introduces Western readers to the elegant art of Hsüeh T’ao [Xue Tao], and places her in the poetic context of her age….The effect is more like a series of Japanese haiku than the rigidly metrical, stiffly parallel, rhymed couplets of the Chinese originals….there are frequent flashes of poetic elegance and technical expertise, when Hsüeh T’ao’s artistry blends with the translator’s real talent….It is refreshing, too, to come across genuine wit in Chinese poetry and its translation.”

—Anne Birrell, The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland

JAMES COOK IN SEARCH OF TERRA INCOGNITA: A BOOK OF POEMS

“A beautiful book, lyric, original, and moving.”

—Ruth Whitman

“The first thing to notice about Jeanne Larsen’s poems [in this book] is the nimbleness of thair language, the fact that each one travels with conviction….The delightful part of all this seriousness of purpose is that, at just the right instants, not only is genuine intelligence woven in, but a joyous kind of witty laughter charges the lines, unexpectedly, with its quirky punch.”

—Cathryn Hankla, the Hollins Critic

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