Intruder

The dark and beautiful third collection from Jill Bialosky is a book about the intrusion of eros, art, and the imagination on ordinary life.

The lover who whispers "Is it still snowing? ... Will you stay with me?" in the first poem reappears throughout the book in different guises—sometimes seemingly real, at other times as muse, doppelgänger, or dream. In "The Seduction," as the lovers stand to watch a house fire—"gorgeous, dazzling, / the orange and reds of such ruin"—the poem becomes a study in the nature of reality, selfhood, and the different levels of consciousness we inhabit. Evoking Penelope and Orpheus and Eurydice, Bialosky explores how desire and the act of creation can both threaten the self and bring us to a powerful self-understanding.

In Intruder— her most mesmerizing gathering of poems yet—Bialosky has captured not only the fleeting truths and pleasures of passion but also its mysterious dangers.

Don't be afraid. Come closer.
It's bath time. The boy's in the tub,
father's shaving, mother is dressed
in her evening wear: black silk slip,
high heels, leaning on the tub's edge.
.....
Look into the mother's eyes.
What truth do they belie?

from "Saturday Night"

Praise for Intruder

“Gorgeous ... What a rush these stormy poems of love, disruption, and resignation are, as intense and perfectly noted as violin concertos.”

Booklist

“These poems show both a storyteller’s gift for implicit narrative and a sophisticate’s sense of other arts . . . Bialosky’s book ends up undeniably personal, confirming her in her most serious of all her vocations: the setting down of a tumultuous inner life into clear, shared words.”

Publishers Weekly

“Jill Bialosky’s Intruder is a powerful work that combines an inquiry into the depths of passion with the details of ordinary life — a boy at baseball, a woman cutting sunflower stems. In this third collection, she has invented a mode for juxtaposing abstractions with moving images. She writes with urgency of the mysteries of art, which have a direct bearing on the joys and dangers of simply being alive. I read this book in wonder.”

— Grace Schulman

Jill Bialosky's powerful third book of poetry, Intruder is sharply perceptive, reminding readers about the way life forces us to our knees while restoring us to our true selves. In haunting imagery, the poems strike chords of recognition, like the way we hold on to moments, hoping to make them last forever even as we watch them dissolve... Whether writing about her musician son, her husband or her garden, slumber parties or family vacations, Bialosky asks readers to pay attention and acknowledge the longing that fills so much of life. Taking inspiration from others — reflections on great paintings or manuscripts of ancient poetry, arguments with heavy thinkers or lines taken from other poets — Bialosky enters a hearty conversation and invites us to join in; she knits throughout this keenly live collection a visceral thread that ties the poet inextricably to her reader.” 

— Bernadette Murphy, LA Times

“Hypnotic... Dreamlike poems... energized by their own darkness.”

Library Journal

“Jill Bialosky’s third book of poems, Intruder, makes the writer’s (or artist’s) conflicts her central subject. It is an unrelenting inquisition conducted with the reined protocol of a $400/hour analysis session complete with dream sequences: the wish for meaning must not be confused with the will to meaning. .. [It] is the accomplished work of a poet in mid-career, grappling with both the mystery and the will to embody it. There’s an admirable stubbornness to its project, a willingness to try this and try that. Each poem is a return engagement, another stab at pinning down some aspect of a complex experience. Such returns suggest an appealing awareness of defeat before greater, confusing forces that compel the attention, forces to which, as in “The Listeners,” “She listened/with such passion as if listening were a grieving/for not seeing. Until even desire/ became a kind of sorrow.”

— Ron Slate.com

“With a distance filled with feeling but also steady observation, {Bialosky} parses out what makes a life, a relationship, a family, a self inside a body. And so the poet’s gift is to enter the life of another and so be able to see one’s own life with clarity.”

American Poet

“Jill Bialosky, in her third and latest collection of poetry, Intruder, attempts to do what generations of poets before her have tried — to articulate the ineffable. Most of these poems succeed at capturing and concretizing the ephemeral, the fragile, the fleeting, focusing on transitory spots of time that spark or conclude passion, inspiration, or change... a project as ambitious as articulating brief evocations of the origins of self, creativity, and passion, and constructing the poetic boundaries of their ephemerality. Feelings of connectedness to things true and absolute may be only momentary, but like Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” and Keats’s Odes, Ms. Bialosky’s poems remain to record our wonder.”

— Dan Giancola, East Hampton Star

“There are so many cool aspects to Jill Bialosky’s Intruder that it’s sort of tough to know where to begin... To some degree, the collection’s title nods a little toward the thematic consideration: the poems in Intruder deal with (or sort of emotionally center around) the idea/sense/feel of intrusion and the feeling of being intruded upon... But what’s so, so cool and beautiful about what Bialosky does with these intrusions is that she takes these moments or aspects of instability, of emotional (or geographic, or mental) repositionings, and then, with a deftness and emotional directness that’s goose-bump inducing, the poem examines the new place that the intrusion’s pushed the intruded to... For now, appreciate but ignore (for our purposes here) the beauty of the language, or the knock-yr-socks-off dazzle of how seemingly associative lines resonate emotionally...”

— Corduroy Books