logo About Ordering Books Events Home
Hummingbird Press
Poets of the Monterey Bay

cover Stilt Walking at Midnight

Poems by J. Esmé Jel’enedra


Praise for Stilt Walking at Midnight:

“The final poem in J. Esmé Jel’enedra’s Stilt Walking at Midnight, ends with the lines: ‘You must learn to say Dance.  You must learn to say Sing.  You must learn to throw Joy into the air like a stick.’  Throughout the book, she constructs the intricate path that has led her, and the reader, to this psalm-like exaltation.  In the best of these poems, J. Esmé Jel’enedra creates a sometimes luminous, sometimes haunting beauty that is rare, original, and accomplished.”
         —Joseph Stroud, author of Below Cold Mountain

“Carefully crafted and moving, Stilt Walking at Midnight expresses a full range of emotion—from deep sorrow and abandonment to lightness and innocence.  I am particularly struck by the poems for this author’s children: Runaway, Lamentation for My Son and the title poem with its account of two daughters ‘like white colts freshly unfolded and learning to stand . . . or herons . . .’ as, in their nightclothes, ‘they come to practice the secret rituals of rising’ and, in darkness ‘bend their faces earthward.’  There is something gentle, mysterious and brave about Ms. Jel’enedra’s poems that is certain to attract a wide range of readers.”
         —Robert Sward, author of Three Dogs and a Parrot

“In language both tentative and sure, Jonell Jel’enedra’s poems are a swath of light through a forest of shadows: ‘We hold these tiny flames aloft . . . and pray that they not be snuffed out.’  Like undertow, her words pull you down into dark, teeming water then release you into life-saving air as you are gasping for breath: ‘Belly down and grow gills.  Learn from the fishes.’  These are poems of courage, of transition, when what used to be your life is gone and your life-to-be is nowhere in sight.  ‘Every night I stand at the border and call your name into that country.’”
         —Amber Coverdale Sumrall, author of Litany of Wings


Jonell Esmé Jel’enedra has been a field hand, soda jerk, book reviewer, waitress, ditch digger, school teacher, sales clerk, and used clothing pricer.  Currently she is a mother of four, occasional poet, and library employee.  She holds a degree in Aesthetic Studies from UC Santa Cruz, which qualifies her to make sweeping judgments about the nature of beauty in the world.  She has been published in Ally, Quarry West, Writing for our Lives, Porter Gulch Review, and several anthologies.  She is a winner of the Mary Lonnberg Smith Poetry Award and the Quarry West Poetry Award First Prize.  She lives in Santa Cruz, California.

Stilt Walking at Midnight by J. Esmé Jel’enedra.  Release June 15, 2004.
104 pages, paperback, $12, ISBN 0-9716373-7-7

Poems by J. Esmé Jel'enedra


Copyright 2004