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Jane Shore


Jane ShoreJane Shore grew up in North Bergen, New Jersey. Her first book of peoms, Eye Level , won the 1977 Jupier Prize; her second book, The Minute Hand , won the 1986 Lamont Poetry Prize. Also, her book Music Minus One , was a 1996 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. Jane Shore received a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and has served as a Fellow in Poetry or visiting lecturer at Princeton University, Harvard, the University of Hawaii, and The Foxcroft Schools, among other institutions. Jane Shore is a professor at George Washington University and lives in Washington,DC and in Vermoen with her husband and their daughter.

Biographical information provided by Picador USA


I first met Jane Shore through Ms. Rusher--the two are neighbors and have been close friends for years. The first thing you should know about this poet is that she is absolutely hilarious. What does this have to do with her poetry? Well, her poetry often contains glimmers of her wit and sense of humor; in addition, her poetry can often be heart-wrenchingly poignant. The poem below, "Workout," is vintage Jane Shore. It's about her relationship with her younger sister and contains both humor and pain.

My sister is doing her exercises,
working out in my husband's study.
The rowing machine sighs deeply with every stroke,
its heavy breathing like a couple making love.

She's visiting from Iowa
where the cold weather is much worse.

When she was ten, I'd hear her
strumming her guitar through the bedroom wall.
She'd borrow my albums--my Joan Baez, my Dylan--
and sing along,
shutting me out, drawing me in;
imitating my hair, my clothes,
my generation.

I used to feel sorry for her
for being eight years younger.

She opens the door a crack, and surfaces
in earphones, and wearing pink bikini panties
and a lover's torn T-shirt.
Strapped to her hands are the weights
that weighted her suitcase down.
Her thighs are tight, her triceps shine,
her body is her trophy.

The night she arrived, we sprawled across my bed,
her cosmetic bag spilled open
and she shadowed my eyelids violet,
demonstrating the latest tricks;
the way I used to make her up
on those nights she watched me dress for dates,

watched me slip into my miniskirt,
my sandals, my love beads.
Now she's no longer in love with me,
and eyes me pityingly,
triumphant, her expression the same as mine
when I watched my mother
examine her face in the magnifying mirror.

She's got to keep in shape.
She's a performer, it's her business
to look beautiful every night.
Sometimes, when she begins to sing,
men in the audience fall in love.

She's warming up in the shower;
the tile walls amplify her voice.
Safe, for once, under temperate rain.

Like a dress handed down
from sister to sister,
in time, one body will inherit
what the other has outgrown.

from Music Minus One published by Picador USA, 1996

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