The Crossing Over by Jen Karetnick

The Crossing Over Cover.jpg
The Crossing Over Cover.jpg

The Crossing Over by Jen Karetnick


2018 Split Rock Review Chapbook Winner

These poems about the migrant experience in the Mediterranean, narrated from the boat's point of view, begin with the crafting of the vehicle – the birth of its voice – and end with its destruction. As much participant as it is victim, the boat is the lens through which the reader sees all that happens to the refugees: smuggling, hunger and thirst, rape, drowning, organ stealing, deportation, and repatriation – and, for some, survival in a new country. Embodied by its burden of human experience, from birth in open international waters to an airplane exploding overhead from a bomb, the boat strives to interact with humans, good and evil, as well as the Mediterranean Sea itself, and all that it contains and maintains, both natural and made. As such, it takes on a variety of personas, becoming at turns unwitting witness to and un/willing partner of the refugees of various global crises, who have no choice but to make these desperate ocean journeys.


Genre: Poetry

Publisher: Split Rock Review

Paperback: 33 pages

Dimensions: 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1794439276

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Jen Karetnick is the author of four full-length poetry collections, including The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, 2016), finalist for the 2017 Poetry Society of Virginia Book Prize, and The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (WordTech Communications, 2020). The winner of the 2017 Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Contest, the 2016 Romeo Lemay Poetry Prize, and the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize, she is also the author of four other poetry chapbooks, including Bud Break at Mango House, winner of the 2008 Portlandia Prize. Jen is also the author/co-author of four cookbooks, including Ice Cube Tray Recipes: 75 Easy and Creative Kitchen Hacks for Freezing, Cooking, and Baking with Ice Cube Trays (Skyhorse, June 2019). She received an MFA in poetry from University of California, Irvine, and an MFA in fiction from University of Miami. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, JAMA, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Missouri Review, Ovenbird, Salamander, and Tampa Review. She is co-founder/co-editor of the daily online literary journal, SWWIM Every Day. Jen works as the dining critic for MIAMI Magazine and as a freelance lifestyle journalist.


In her newest book, The Crossing Over,  Karetnick  reminds us of what the best poets do: she goes big. In a series of persona poems that read like the most lyrical of kennings, these smart and fearless verses look over a vast terrain – from the storied sands of the Islamic world and the ancient Mediterranean . . . to the smallest of container ships, which so often becomes a gorgeous metaphor for the mythic womb. . . . This book is our most awaited guide for understanding what it means to be human among humans – or as the poet says, for “learning the rites for search and rescue.” And, in order to command this search, Karetnick, like the most masterful of guides and poets, is willing to lead us and to look where most of us cannot. For this book, for this guide, this poet, we are right to be grateful. 

 —M.B. McLatchey, author of The Lame God

Boat as metaphor for what we carry. Boat as vessel (woman), boat as adventure (man and conquest). Boat as witness to abominations that befall immigrants and refugees. Boat lost at sea, “a brief dream the ocean / once had”—as we all are sometimes lost. Boat as death, driven by Charon. Jen Karetnick’s The Crossing Over is a political, moral journey, a tour de force built by sonnets, lists, a ghazal, a concrete poem, a pantoum, and literary magic.

—Denise Duhamel, author of Scale






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