Winner of the 2019 Richard Wilbur Poetry Award.
In her eighth collection of poetry, Jehanne Dubrow meditates on the ways that things fall apart. Working within the constraining mechanisms of the Petrarchan sonnet and the heroic crown, Simple Machines worries that “we wonder what unfailing means / when nothing’s warrantied to last.” Romantic relationships, friendships, even the very landscape of American democracy—all are sources of anxiety, engines that jam or cease to function. And the speaker of these poems understands that deadbolts, floodlights, and fences are sources of fear; they will not keep us safe, either in the domestic or the political sphere. All we can do is “salvage what still works” and incline into one another, like planes, like “simple, good machinery.”