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February 2017

Commonplace Invasions

Jo Pitkin

ISBN: 978-1-908836-71-7

Page Count: 78

Publication Date: Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cover Artwork: Times Past by Maryellen Sakura, monoprint. Used with permission.

About this Book

Finalist in the 2015 Beverly Hills Book Awards & Finalist in the Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize at Utica College

Jo Pitkin’s poems are strong, exact, intensely evocative, and resonate with a lovely inner music. Hers is one of the surest poetic voices to be heard now, and Commonplace Invasions will consolidate her reputation among those who know her work and will bewitch new readers.
John Banville, author of Ancient Light

Jo Pitkin is a colorist, and her poems, not surprisingly, can be likened to paintings. Her palette is luminous, her brushstrokes sure. She imbues places, people, memories with the faceted light through which she views the world, jewel-like and elusive.
Nina Bogin, author of The Lost Hare

The poems in Jo Pitkin's Commonplace Invasions are rendered in the poetic equivalent of engravings in very old, weathered rock face. They are restrained and attentive, and invite the reader into the presence of a speaker who has privileged secrets she is nonetheless willing to share. Pitkin is a superb craftswoman—rare among the world of gifted emerging poets nowadays. Her fiercely capable sentences, many of them only three or four words, carry great weight. Hers is a voice careful but not timid, exacting but not obsessive. Those who come to poetry seeking a grand, swashbuckling punch in the gut need look elsewhere. And yet, a Pitkin poem surprises, but does so with a shift in light, a rustling in the periphery. Those who come contemplatively and ready to receive will be rewarded beyond measure.
Frannie Lindsay, author of Our Vanishing

Author Biography

Jo Pitkin is a native of Somers, New York. She received a BA in creative writing and literature from Kirkland College and an MFA from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of iowa. She is the author of The Measure (Finishing Line press) and Cradle of the American Circus: Poems from Somers, New York (the History press) and editor of Lost Orchard: Prose and Poetry from the Kirkland College Community (State University of New York Press). Her poems have appeared in such journals and anthologies as The New York Review of Books, Little Star, Quarterly West, Salamander, Crab Orchard Review, Nimrod International Journal, and Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers. After working as an editor at Houghton Mifflin Company, Jo pursued a career as a freelance writer for educational publishers throughout the United States. She lives and works in New York’s Hudson river valley at the river’s narrowest and deepest point.


Short review: COMMONPLACE INVASIONS reviewed on

Quartered like the heart, each chamber announced by a prose poem, Jo Pitkin's newest release meditates on family lifeblood, pumping with nostalgia for upstate locales, weathering along the Hudson River line ("Almost Home"). Skilled at persona, Pitkin contrasts a mother's love that spreads like food and tableware beyond "a distant outcrop of houses" ("Sunday Dinner") with a failed dairy farmer's suicide, kin unburdened "with the precision of a milking machine" ("Yellow Cow"). Carried "over the celery swamp trail" in "Written by a Shut Cabin," the narrator surely glimpses Slabsides, John Burroughs's retreat, replete with "kettle," "tin plate," and "drained cup." —PU

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