A NEW YORK TIMES BEST POETRY BOOK OF 2018
A transfiguration of Mennonite hymns into heartbreaking lyric poems, Years, Months, and Days is a moving “meditation on the possibility of translation.” Bridging secular spirituality and holy reverence with the commonalities of life, death, love, and hope, Jernigan explores the connection between hymn and poem, recalling the spare beauty of Marilynne Robinson’s novels or the poems of Jan Zwicky and Robert Bringhurst. The sparse and tender phrasing of Years, Months, and Days is “an offering of words to music,” made in the spirit of a shared love—for life, for a particular landscape and its rhythms—that animates poem and prayer alike.
Amanda Jernigan is the author of two previous collections of poems, Groundwork and All the Daylight Hours, and of the chapbook The Temple, published by Baseline Press in 2018. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Parnassus, PN Review, The Dark Horse, Atlanta Review, and The Nation, as well as in numerous Canadian literaries, and have been set to music, most recently by Zachary Wadsworth and Colin Labadie. She is an essayist and editor as well as a poet, and has written for the stage.
Praise for Years, Months, and Days
"[Years, Months, and Days] is carried by Jernigan’s obvious respect for her sponsoring material and by her superb ear." —The New York Times
"Exquisite . . . deeply resonant . . . There’s often a metaphysical cast to her forthright observations, which makes them both evocative and poignant." —Toronto Star
"Amanda Jernigan’s small and beautiful book should be on your bedside table even if it is as heaped as mine. Just 4” by 5” and fewer than 70 pages, the book consists of untitled, spare, and simply-worded poems which evoke the cycles of life, the seasons, and human longing for meaning and connection. The poems expand in your head, opening your mind to matters beyond the day-to-day."—Arc Poetry Magazine
"The poems are tiny, seeds only, bare of flourish, each containing the germ of an idea so large the mind can hardly hold it . . . . If you seek to tune those numbered days of yours to what is most frightfully vital, you might carry this book in your satchel awhile. It’s tiny enough to conceal in a large pocket, but it thunders, and its seeds carry fields." —Image
"Singular . . . stirring . . . invites pauses and contemplation. It is [Jernigan's] keen sense of what is essential that guides . . . these meditations." —Hamilton Review of Books
"An elegant little book . . . Jernigan crafts pithy yet piercing poems that echo in the mind."—Canadian Literature
"Vespers. Devotional. Breathtakingly sparse. Elegant. Wondrous. Moving. Rare." — Jeff Kirby, knife | fork | book