No Acute Distress

No Acute Distress

by Jennifer Richter

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Jennifer Richter’s penetrating second collection of poems, No Acute Distress, introduces us to the unspoken struggles and unanticipated epiphanies of illness and motherhood, subjects rarely explored together in contemporary poetry. The first poem of each section borrows from a classic joke form—one begins, “An intractable migraine walks into a bar”—to consider the thin line this mother walks between the tragic and comic: debilitating pain met with increasingly absurd and desperate medical treatments.

Richter seasons her work with irony from the start, titling the book’s opening poem, “Pleasant, healthy-appearing adult white female in no acute distress.” As the collection progresses, the speaker’s growing children bring new, wider perspective to the poems; the heart of the book opens up to embrace the adolescents’ increasing self-sufficiency and the body’s vibrant re-emergence into health.

No Acute Distress offers readers fresh language grounded in a masterful use of form, speaking with an urgency that acknowledges chronic pain’s cumulative damage to the body and spirit, and with an openness that allows for hope and the inexplicable on the path to victorious recovery.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780809334827
Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
Publication date: 03/13/2016
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 80
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Jennifer Richter’s first book, Threshold, was chosen by former U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey as a winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, she has received an Oregon Literary Fellowship and currently teaches in Oregon State University’s MFA program.

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No Acute Distress 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jennifer Richter tackles the chronic human condition with gusto. The title poem with the charming doctor’s corny bedside manner resonates; I knew a dentist like that. It’s a special soul that cannot resist trying to minimize the pain they are about to inflict. Blessed are the merciful. What a great line: “An intractable migraine walks into a bar…” Richter manages to make light of the gruesome horror of a killer headache—such skilled understatement. The pain, both physical and psychological is palpable in Richter’s poetry. “Relapse: Behind Bars” paints the ugly picture of being caged and yearning for freedom. In “Eighteen Seconds” Richter shows us the futility of being in a medical system that doesn’t listen; so not much changes when there is a generalization about genes. And the drugs—oh, the drugs, the prescriptions that are supposed to make us better—do they? This is an ongoing conversation. I was grateful that she concluded with “No Joke.” Frankly I needed some comic relief. Extremely thought provoking. A job well done.