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What Penelope Chooses by Jeanne Larsen

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This poetry book is Jeanne Larsen’s retirement present to herself and all of us, celebrating what she has learned and contributed throughout her distinguished career as a professor at Hollins University on the far edge (her literal and figurative comfort zone) of Roanoke, Virginia. Yes, the Penelope in the title is the Penelope in Homer’s Odyssey, but Larsen’s poetic muses about this character view Penelope as a universal persona who is relevant to other times and places. "What Penelope Chooses is an 'intertextual gabfest' that gives us astonishing new commentary on one of the most hallowed texts in all of Western literature, the Odyssey. Larsen fills the absence at the center of the traditional text--Penelope's patient, wifely waiting--with a third wave, pussy-hatted, female hero for our time who is royally pissed off and woke: 'A few more centuries & she'd / have played the god / -damn lyre [herself !]' A fantastic linguistic and literary feat." -Kate Daniels. "How does a 21st-century woman read Homer? Jeanne Larsen's What Penelope Chooses shows you how it's done. Her magnificent confabulation of jazzy sonnets turns Homer on his head and gives him some back chat, high fives, dream talk, and rewrites along with showing just what the English language is capable of. The collection is a tour de force poetic exploration of the modern text in a thoroughly modern voice. Brava!" --Barbara Hamby. Jeanne Larsen is the author of two other poetry books, four novels and two translations of poetry by women of China’s Tang Dynasty (618-907).

San Diego, California: Cider Press Review, 2019. 86 pages. Trade paperback.