Jay Hopler

jay hopler was born the mint-condition-in-original-packaging-      action-figure-w/-kill-piggy-death-grip (collector’s edition)raised to be the bird trap in a painting by pieter bruegel the      elder he ended instead the empty birdfeeder around which      birds still gatherin between he was the horse-drawn serenade the      mythicgooberkhan the bowl of lemons every cloud that      ever looked like a lionhe was never drawn by the dawn parade to greatness though      he won great praise for his performance as the green vine      angering for life in book-tv’s the wallace stevens storyfor a moment in rome he was:he has been survived

Feature Date


Selected By

Share This Poem

Print This Poem

image of jay hopler

Jay Hopler was the author of Green Squall and the editor (with Kimberly Johnson) of Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry. The recipient of, among other awards and prizes, the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, a fellowship from the Lannan Foundation, the Whiting Writers’ Award, and the Rome Prize in Literature, he taught in the writing program at the University of South Florida. Read more about Jay Hopler here.

cover of still life

San Francisco, California

“People with advanced aggressive cancers automatically become authorities on mortality. Poets with such cancers have been dealt, at great cost, four aces. And for the wild ones, like Jay Hopler, cancer can be a field day. The bleak friskiness here is not new, nor is the swaggering rancor (like Berryman, who was also proud to be right in his dire predictions). What is new is gratitude: for the ‘atomic girl’ it is his extraordinary good fortune to meet and ultimately marry; for the opportunity of art, which lends to his passions’ duration. There is a difference, marked in these poems, between rage at the fact of mortality and rage at the diagnosis of its imminence. And the latter infuses Hopler’s extravagant jokes and glittering improvisations with the urgency and weight of last words.”
—Louise Glück, winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature

Still Life is astonishing, a collection that faces up to the injustice of untimely death and discovers—not insulated from despair and rage but arrived at somehow *through* them—an extraordinary, difficult, electric joy. No book I have read in years has moved me so deeply; no book has felt so full of life.”
—Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness and What Belongs to You

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.