This event will be held at Virginia Street Church and is sponsored by SubText and Nodin Press.
Stopping for Breath, the fourth poetry collection by Norita Dittberner-Jax, moves through the sunlight and shadows of a life lived intensely, with both conscience and a rare sensitivity to those brief moments of delight that so often arrive unexpectedly and linger hardly at all. In one poem, she expresses her appreciation for the old trees that distinguish a coffee shop terrace on a near-perfect Saturday morning. In another, she describes leading a tour for children at an art museum—they love the brass elevator best. But there are also peace vigils, an observant look at the social interactions of a neighborhood gym, poems about cats and dogs, and near metaphysical musings that call Wisława Szymborska to mind.
Bit by bit, Dittberner-Jax’s childhood years come into sharper focus, and the wonderful life of travel and commitment she shares with her husband. “Delivers the Bed”, for example, is a remembrance, short and sweet, of seventy-two hundred nights spent together—some in snoring, others in bliss.
In the end, this combination of worldly experience, astute description, and playful appreciation is hard to resist. But the reader is less likely to stop for breath—the pace is steady—than to marvel at the elements that have been brought together economically to form a perfect whole: a vision, a poem, a life well lived.
Norita Dittberner-Jax grew up in the Frogtown neighborhood of Saint Paul, amid a lively mix of German, Irish, and Polish neighbors. Her family was large, musical, and politically articulate. She studied English literature and education at what is now Saint Catherine’s University. She has been a teacher of young children, an urban high school English teacher, and a teaching writer for COMPAS. It was only after she finished teaching full-time and had published three collections of poetry that she entered the MFA program at Hamline University. Norita lives in Saint Paul with her husband, Eugene Jax. Her work has been recognized by the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, the Loft Mentor Program, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is one of the poetry editors for Redbird Chapbooks.