The World Began with Yes
Erica Jong has never stopped writing poetry. It was her first love and it has provided inspiration for all her other books. In a dark time, she celebrates life. Her title comes from the Brazilian genius Clarice Lispector who was deeply in love with life despite many tragedies. Life challenges us to celebrate even when our very existence is threatened. Never have we needed poetry more. Jong believes that the poet sees the world in a grain of sand and eternity in a wild flower--as Blake wrote. Her work has always stressed the importance of the lives of women, women's creativity, and self-confidence. She sees her role as a writer as inspiring future poets to come.
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About the Author
Erica Jong is a celebrated poet, novelist & essayist with over twenty-five published books that have been influential all over the world. Her most popular novel, Fear of Flying, celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2013. Never out of print, it has sold over thirty-five million copies in forty-two languages including Chinese and Arabic. Erica's latest novel, Fear of Dying, was published in 2015/2016 with many publishers all over the world. Her awards include the Fernanda Pivano Award for Literature in Italy (named for the critic who introduced Ernest Hemingway, Allen Ginsberg, and Erica Jong to the Italian public), the Sigmund Freud Award in Italy, the Deauville Literary Award in France, the United Nations Award for Excellence in Literature, and Poetry Magazine's Bess Hokin Prize (also won by Sylvia Plath and W.S. Merwin). Erica's poetry has appeared in publications worldwide, including The New Yorker, L.A. Times, The Paris Review, Haaretz, and many more. Erica lives in New York and Connecticut with her husband and two poodles.
A forever fan and devoted student of Erica Jong's poetry, her work has inspired me for as long as I can remember. Her newest book simmers with passion, wisdom, and joy. Enter her "red forest of love" and drink the poetry of Erica Jong--each poem ripe with life, each one a kiss, a slap awake, an embrace, a memory and reminder that lust, longing, and desire are the architects of love. Erica tells us, "plenty & poetry" are all we need, and here we have it--a "climax of language, like lovemaking, bringing peace." Say "yes," to this collection and let the world begin.
--Kim Dower, Former Poet Laureate of West Hollywood, Author of four books of poetry including Last Train to the Missing Planet and Sunbathing on Tyrone Power's Grave
"In her new collection, Jong (whose 1973 novel "Fear of Flying" has sold over 37 million copies) touches on her mother's death, astrophysics and her own return to poetry, which 'came / unbidden / as it / always / does.'"
--The New York Times New & Noteworthy Poetry Feature
Erica Jong's new book of poetry is inspiring, uplifting, exciting, stimulating, engrossing--piercing. These new poems of Erica's light up the page with tears and shouts, with wounds and exclamations, with yes, yes! That is it, that is what I feel, what I imagined, what I dreamed. Ms. Jong says she culled these poems from those she has written over the last decades, poems whose writing keeps her alive. That is what poetry is for, to keep us alive, to wake us up!! Erica has done that for me again today, kept me alive, breathing, weeping, shouting at the page, "Yes!!" This is what it takes to make a poem, to make a life. Right on the money, right on the edge, right on the heart, right on the breath, The World Began With Yes is the real deal.
Get it and read it. You need it. We all need it. In this time of agitation and fear, you will fly with Erica Jong--she brings us back to what matters--the heart, the mind, the head, the imagination--the "Yes" of life.
From the vigor of the political to the complications of religion, from the purity of the spiritual to the riot of the body, The World Began With Yes wakes us up to say, "Yes!" Jong's poems brim with language that is supple and fierce, elegant and wise--all of it creating a feast of joy. Here we have everything great poetry is meant to be.
--Linda Gray Sexton, author of Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton and Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide.
Erica Jong's new collection of poetry is, as its title suggests, both affirmative and exhilarating. Whether she is writing about her grandchildren, the loss of her mother, or an Alice Munro stamp, Jong's images are always vividly evocative. Her poems are filled with an equal awareness of the sensuous nature of life and its inevitable decline. This is the work of a poet in her prime, filled with candor and wisdom.
In The World Began with Yes, it is as though Jong is trying to physically touch us with her words, to wake us, hug us, spank us. The Yes poems go mano a mano, toe to toe, skin to skin with their readers and are a right continuation of Jong's mission to free the female body, to claim the full rights of our physicality, to endow us with the zipless joy of communion, union, sex. There is a transcendence beyond the fears of #metoo and the defiant waves of feminism, a hope for a joyous and liberating us. If we are to fight, then we are to remember what we fight for, the rush of dandelions, the effortless fall of rose petals, the knowledge of ourselves and the other as we dance the poet's Sufi dance.
--'A Desire for Wholeness, the Wholeness of Desire: The World Began with Yes' Larissa Shmailo's article for North of Oxford
Erica Jong, best known for her novels starting with Fear of Flying, is a poet of long standing and of renown. When the squib in the Book Review of The New York Times mentioned that her latest book of verse dealt in part with astrophysics, I took a look. . . Scientists can enjoy the poetry, and I hope that others enjoy the bits of science.
--Jay M. Pasachoff is the director of the Hopkins Observatory and Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College. He is a Visitor at the Carnegie Observatories.
Interview with Erica Jong and Kim Dower in The San Diego Tribune
Interview from The Creative Independent
Interview with Erica Jong and Kim Dower from the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Video interview with Erica Jong on PBS