Joan Joffe Hall grew up in New York and has published several volumes of poetry, including Romance and Capitalism at the Movies (available from Alice James Books). The title poem, "Romance and Capitalism at the Movies" is available here.
Her poems, fiction, and memoirs have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Alaska Quarterly, North Dakota Quarterly, Beloit Fiction Journal, Fiction International, and elsewhere.
"Hall's tone is sharp and edgy, with unflinching perceptions and witty surprises flying at you. You sit up straight. And the power of the poems accumulates; you know they add up to a special sensibility, a passionate personal voice that is very moving."
-Bobbie Ann Mason
"I relish that the poems are spoken by a woman who about to do something: tend the garden, go off to work, care for a child. That, I know, is not the sort of thing a man is supposed to say in public about a woman poet, but I wanted to say it, knowing how much I like to be described as a domestic poet myself. As they carefully, relentlessly, understand what has been given them, these poems give their insights generously to us."
"Readers just now discovering the work of Joan Joffe Hall can take it from this long-standing admirer: she is a poet of extraordinary gifts. In Angled Light is informed by wry wit, fierce intelligence, and a warm-hearted love of life."
"Direct and compelling, these poems move with a spare grace that balances outcry, backtalk, silence, song, and story. Perhaps because Joan Joffe Hall does not accept easy answers to the worthy questions that arise in a life lived with an attention and an honesty that are unswerving, hers are poems that have intelligence and great heart."
From her new collection, In Angled Light, available through Antrim House Books.
Before we had "whatever,"
laconic laissez faire, we had to strain
for a reply, feign druthers, swear
it didn't matter, maybe downright lie.
None of it had quite that comic
flip. Oh, the act was there:
the abdication, tipping the menu
in a Chinese restaurant, toward
a friend--"You order"--and letting
someone more forward or hungry,
perhaps even perniciously decisive,
tender the numbers:
41, the pork and bean curd, and 25,
the scallops. "Whatever," our new word,
we're willing to eat what's dished up.
We sit in the delicious dark
of a movie theater with no sway
over previews or ads, maybe arrive
in flickering lights as the feature
starts. Let the credits roll! Sing
with the Beatles, "Let It Be."
Or picture four cars at a four-way
stop. "I'm first!" "No, me!" Rehearse
the angry crunch of fenders,
shrug hands off wheel, raise foot
from gas pedal. Let horns blare--
you'll never lurch headlong, or be mad.
But what did we say, back in the old days
before we had "whatever"? Was it
"You decide" or "I don't care"?
Both now make me squirm,
the pronouns "You" and"I"
too personal somehow, too firm--too
twentieth century, that century
in which so many choices were bad.
Her recent series of chapbooks may be purchased for six dollars apiece payable to Joan Hall. No charge for shipping. Send orders to Dogwood Press, P.O. Box 103, Mansfield Center, CT 06250.
Around the time I retired, having published enough poetry and fiction in national publications and small journals, I decided that my real audience was my friends, and people who attend readings. I began to print chapbooks in editions generally of 100 and giving them to close friends and also selling them at readings and workshops. It's a pleasure to do exactly what you want. ~jjh
© copyright Joan Joffe Hall. 2006-2011