Wednesday, June 6

Posted by Laurel Garver on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 6 comments
Review of Fabric by Jessica Bell
When Jessica Bell asked if I'd like to review her latest poetry collection, Fabric, I jumped at the chance. She's not only a gifted writer, but also a great champion of the genre in an age when poetry has been largely shifted to margins--the lofty ivory tower of academia and the mean streets of urban poetry slams and hip-hop. If you can't make sense of John Ashbery or get nervous in the presence of bling and graffiti, you might encounter poetry only in its commercialized form, between the folds of a greeting card.

But if you think accessible poetry is a dead genre, Bell urges you to think again. In Fabric, she takes on personas and inhabits them like a well-trained actor. This aspect might be jarring at first to readers accustomed to greeting-card variety verse, which is focused on personal emotion. Instead, we get a novelist's sensibilites--an ear for conflict and pivotal change moments, an empathetic drive to experience as another might. The poems seem to me to fall in the larger category of confessional poetry, sharing affinities with the work of Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, W.D. Snodgrass, John Berryman and Sharon Olds.

 In many of the poems, Bell uses to great effect stunning epiphany end-lines that shed a new light on what came before, sending a reader spiraling back in delight to re-read and reinterpret. Like Sexton, she can be both tenacious and tender, often within the same stanza.

I finished Fabric with a renewed desire to live and write more fully engaged with my world. That, my friends, is something no greeting card verse will do.

Fabric is available in e-book for $1.99 and paperback for $5.50.


About Jessica Bell:

If Jessica Bell could choose only one creative mentor, she’d give the role to Euterpe, the Greek muse of music and lyrics. And not because she currently lives in Greece, either. The Australian-native author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist has her roots firmly planted in music, and admits inspiration often stems from lyrics she’s written.

She is the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and co-hosts the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop on the Greek Isle of Ithaca, with Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest.

For more information about Jessica Bell, please visit:


Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win the anthology Poetry Pact Volume 1, which features more poems by Jessica Bell, as well as me and a dozen other fabulous poets.


  1. Wow, Laurel! I am so so grateful for this amazing review! Yup, Sharon Olds, another on my shelf pleading with me to pick it up :) Thank you thank you thank you with ALL my heart.

    1. I think it's cool that there's an existing tradition to resonate with, even if you didn't arrive there by conscious choice.

  2. The book sounds wonderful!

    I have to admit I've always had a secret yearning to write poetry, but I've been afraid to try. It's always seemed so unattainable.

    1. Just like with fiction, it helps to start by reading. Some of the poets in the confessional school are fairly accessible--that is, they are more likely to use straightforward syntax (unlike John Ashbery) and talk about life as we live it, rather than lofty metaphysics and such. A couple sites I could recommend to surf are and

  3. Jess is the best, and her poetry rules.