NC Literary Hall of Fame




God had a body by Jennie Malboeuf

Indiana University Press
$12.00, paperback / $12.00, e-book
ISBN: 978-0-253047243
April, 2020
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"There is a fierce spirituality and mordant wit in God had a body, Jennie Malboeuf's first book of poems. Here is a poet with a transformative vision of divine and earthly enterprise as well as a sharp eye for the repercussions of physical detail. Malboeuf's use of enactments and embodiments―actions and images―startle and awaken the reader to a powerful new voice in American poetry. What a glorious debut collection."
—Stuart Dischell, author of Children with Enemies

"Salient and provoking, sensuous and cerebral, Jennie Malboeuf's poems locate holiness in the living, dead, partial and whole creations of this planet: among them a 'cow's pretty I squinched hard/and wished it back to the socket'; a 'redback spider [that] throws himself/into the hollow fangs of his beloved...' ; a dead whale whose 'mouth hung open/like a friendly doorway,' until '...that certain scent of ending... makes the human fantasy of welcome clear.' Yes, we are like the animals―whether tiny or enormous―but make no mistake: they are themselves, worthy of our attention and our reverence, rarely reflecting us. The poet laces her observant news of these encounters with a biblical re-envisioning, as well as with her own peculiar wit....This poet thrives amid and among other bodies, observing, feeling, and listening, trying very hard not to cut life short or diminish its sacredness with fallible descriptions, while acknowledging with her striking wit our human-centric eye. I relish these poems and will return to them for their stories, their humor, and the ways they intertwine language and life."
—Lisa Williams, author of Woman Reading to the Sea

The mind and the body. The heavens and earth. God and animal. The speaker in God had a body considers how the image of a higher power is presented to her, beginning with a Catholic upbringing in Kentucky. Speckled with stars and peopled with creatures, these poems employ a trinity of sequences that address a present, past, and possible future—from a troubled reckoning with belief to loss and promise still ahead.

In this debut collection from Jennie Malboeuf, we observe undercurrents of violence and power, the dynamics of memory, gender, marriage, and miscarriage. At times, God is brutal. At times, delicate. Through true stories of animal savagery, God had a body unravels human behavior and undoes the opaque and cryptic mysteries of faith.

Born and raised in Kentucky, Jennie Malboeuf received a BA at Centre College and an MFA at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her poems have appeared in the Gettysburg Review, VQR, the Southern Review, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, David, and dog, Mavis. She teaches writing at Guilford College.

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