Copyright © 2005
by Jim Reese
The dancers, the writers, the hipsters, and the fighters. Jim Reese knows them all, trespassing
into their lives with his good eyes and ears, giving each a gritty moment of worth. If you want poems
smooth-tongued or surrealistic, don't look here. But if you want folk as tough as cedars, rooted in
work, sticking their noses into the wind, "eye-squinting tight," well, slip on tough boots and come
in. And you, too, will eventually love Willow. Don Welch
Refreshingly accessible, Jim Reese's new selection of poetry,
These Trespasses, manages to layer myth and meaning upon a clean, crisp Midwestern vernacular,
inventive imagery and luscious sounds. Reading These Trespasses over and over provides for
a smooth and subtle yet deeper understanding of seemingly straightforward and enjoyable
narratives. These Trespasses is a must re-read Raymond Hammond,
Editor-in-Chief, New York Quarterly
These Trespasses is firmly rooted in "blasted country. Tough country." Jim Reese's world is hardscrabble.
"Some call it salt licked." It will work its way into your mind's bloodstream. David Lee
He knows that this life is what we've got. That it is not something to be bragged up,
nor to be made fun of. Yet it should be sung. And Reese sings it in plainchant,
without filigree and ornamentation.
Reese's collection of poems, These Trespasses,was recently published by Backwaters
Press, Omaha. Some of the poems in the book appeared as "Saturday's Poems" at
The Middlewesterner, so you know I liked Reese's work before I ever saw this book.
... One can ascertain that Reese has lived among real people, has walked in their shoes,
sat with them on their stoops and in their taverns, and listened to them. Listened well.
Heard their stories and their speech patterns.
These are "plain poems" in the best sense: sturdy and beautiful both, like Amish
furniture. We only pass this way but once, and the journey is what you make of it,
and Reese has chosen to make these powerful and moving poems out of the stories of our
lives. He might be studying for a PhD yet his poems are "unstudied;" they are not the
work of a naif, nor of a sophisticate pretending to be naive. Reese has the tools and he
knows the tricks, knows the tricks well enough he doesn't have to use them. He can let
things be themselves; that is the beauty of simplicity. He is not clueless, but neither
does he come off as hipper than those he writes of, nor hipper than his readers. As I
say authentic. Middlewestern. These poems are grounded in the stuff of this
world, yet are never very far way from the music of our dreams. ...
That's what these poems do they hold on. The characters we meet, they hold on.
The language of these poems holds on.
Jim Reese knows that this old mudball is all we've got, and he holds on; and his poems
invite us to hold on, too. The Middlewesterner
Poets Paint Powerful Images ... Reese's These Trespasses collects nearly 50
poems. Some of Reese's poems jump out right from the title, like "Smell My
Socks, You Bastard," which recalls noted poet Charles Bukowski. His poem
"Reading Her Lips," about his daughter, is straightforwardly affecting a
crooked grin love poem that stays with the reader. John Keenan, Omaha
The small-town, high plains place of these poems is described in spare but loving detail.
Reese makes you want to be in on the joke and understand the hardness of this place,
becoming friends and intimates with the sun-baked men and loose women he describes.
One becomes nostalgic for the hard work of roofing or farming, and the late nights
drinking bloody beer with cowboys, even if one has never actually done any of these
things. ... Men do live free in Jim Reese’s poetry, constrained only by gravity,
heat, hunger and women. One character, a traveling salesman, is brought low only
by the vast "space and place" of the Plains. This freedom from constraint is a
major theme, and Reese experiments with both sober and quite playful poems. ...
Jim Reese’s poems have never been so ambiguous, but as he shifts his focus from
the hard realities of a life lived outside to the more civilized moments of a
baby’s bedroom, his truths may become more complex. Lincoln Journal Star
A literary renaissance across the Great Plains, bolstered by distinctive regional
presses, ambitious creative writing programs, well-attended city and state-wide literary
festivals, and receptive fans, makes this part of the American West particularly vital
right now for American letters. Additionally, Ted Kooser's two-year appointment as Poet
Laureate has helped garner national attention to the Plains and its poetic traditions.
Among the new voices poised to make a significant contribution to this region's literary
culture is poet Jim Reese. In his new collection, These Trespasses, Reese trains his
attentive, discerning eyes and ears to those telling details of life lived in place.
From the porches, dank apartments, diverse bars, and vehicles of his personae, Reese
inspects surprising, clarifying moments of poignancy and honesty, trespasses into
connection and forgiveness. ...
Hardpan and salt-licked country can still be fertile ground for a talented poet. Like
Mustang Dick's songs, Reese's poems "just taste like more" (48). One can forgive these
trespasses that bring such luminescent news of life and love.
Susan Naramore Maher, Western American Literature, 42.1 (2007)
"Live and learn," the saying goes. But any recent horror film offers a plethora of examples indicating
that such is not always the case. The not-so-merry-go-round of the past seems to hold a magnetic
fascination for some; they keep jumping on for another ride. Perhaps a more accurate saying might
read, "Reflect honestly on life and you might learn from it." Such reflection is evident throughout
Jim Reese's recent collection of poems, These Trespasses (Backwaters Press, 2005). There is a
learning process recorded here, and honest reflection is at the heart of it. ... And from this present
perspective, a life now shared with a wife and new daughter, he casts a hopeful, if timorous, glance
toward the future. A future wholly dependent on what he has learned through honest reflection on the
events of his life thus far, including, and especially, These Trespasses. Neil
Harrison, Prairie Schooner
A jarring collection of real-life poetry that kicks like an old pump-12 gauge. ...
As noted Nebraska poet Don Welch says in praise of the collection, "If you want poems smooth-tongued or
surrealistic, don't look here." Welch is right. Rather than self-indulgent esoterica gone soft around
the edges, Reese offers sharpened words about tough people and hard lives and landscapes. In a style
that's rugged as washboard gravel, he introduces people like Harold Cummins, who never learned to drive
because he never had anywhere worth going. He takes us to a Main Street bar where you can "in one corner
listen as Harold Tahatchenbach, blinder than a coon in headlights, bends the truth," and watch as Linus
Cummins prances around with antlers on his head. And he travels the lonesome byways of Cedar County,
Neb "blasted country" populated with tough people who have been "pounding the dirt since they
could first stand." People like that are worth meeting. Trips like that are worth taking.
Kevin Woster, Rapid City Journal
An Assistant Professor of English and the Director of the Plains Writers' Tour at Mount
Marty College, Jim Reese demonstrates and documents his undeniable talents as a poet and
wordsmith with These Trespasses. This is a poetry that doesn't have a delicate bone
in its whole literary body. Here are a series of highly recommended and distinctive poems
that are vivid, blunt, candidly descriptive, and compelling in their engagement with the
reader. "At The Bar With Bella": "Give me a shot of Cuervo/with training wheels," she
said/"And fill this guy up."//That's all it took. She had me./I watched her hammer one
back and then another./She sucked on the limes, tore them to their rind,/then ordered a
bloody beer/and slid to the stool next to me.//"Wedding cake and funeral ham/are my two
favorite kinds of food./I'm serious," she said. "Think about it."/So I thought about
it./And she made all the sense in the world." Midwest Book Review
Wedding Cake and Funeral Ham
Copyright © 2002
by Jim Reese
The poetry in Wedding Cake and Funeral Ham is blue collar unflinching and
unapologetic. With a photographer's eye and clear vision, Reese reaches straight for the
place that has always kept the working class honest the heart. from the
Jim Reese is a poet on a mission. A stranger in a strange land, he encounters a grotesque
collection of sinners and maybe one or two saints. The surprise is that what and how Reese
tells of them can so often be both true and beautiful. JV Brummels
Jim Reese comes out of the chute riding hard. This new collection is a wild romp across
the hard-scrabble plains of contemporary poetry. Let 'im buck! Jonis Agee
The language in these poems fits like the old shoes you keep kicking yourself for getting
rid of. Tough country. Tough people. And Reese treats them, himself included, with tough
compassion. William Kloefkorn
I've been wrestling with Jim Reese and his poems since I was collecting material for the first volume of
Plains Song Review in 1999. His poems and stories were gritty and crazy, showing a side of rural life that
people oftentimes aren't sober enough to write about. Reese's poems in Wedding Cake and
Funeral Ham follow in that same tradition. ...
Reese writes from a sure-footed point of view, taking the reader right into the heart of the scene or conversation
without much unnecessary or cluttering set-up. ... very cool in a Jack Kerouac kind of way.
Speaking of poetry, the spring issue of the Plains Song Review
available. Published by the Center for Great Plains Studies at the
University of Nebraska Lincoln, the 64-page volume ($7)
wonderful photographs and poems that explore Nebraska's sense
of place. Edited by Margaret Rine, the spring issue is chock-full
of diverse voices
and images that contribute to our understanding of Nebraska and our
these Great Plains. Many local writers and poets, including Deborah
T McGinn, Marjorie Saiser, Marilyn Dorf and Jim Reese,
to name just a few, contributed works to this stellar issue.
Lincoln Journal Star, July 9, 2002
I liked the colloquial feel of the poem. It was story like, and not
pretentious in the least. ...
Wonderful in its embracing of the bucolic.
... Imaginative and simple. Absolutely memorable! Stirring
The Great American Roadshow
Copyright © 2002
Logan House Press
Logan House is pleased to announce the publication of The Great American Road Show,
an anthology of the work of nineteen gifted young poets. Diverse in sensitivity and
sensibility, the voices and visions of these poems make it clear that poetry is alive
and well among the first generation to come of age at the millennium.
No one poet travels the entirety of the road that is American poetry. We stop for gas or
pie or a flat tire or because we can’t keep our eyes open any longer. We pause to fork up
the crumbs from our plate, or we’re distracted in the midst of looking for all the pieces
of the jack. While we sleep on some hard motel bed, other travelers pass us in the night.
This is a community unto itself, but the members survive in a larger culture. We get off
the road for a while or forever. A poem begins and that poem ends. What goes on forever
is the road. What never ends can’t end as long as one voice speaks out its vision
is poetry. from the publisher
One of Logan House Press’ most recent publication is The Great American Road Show,
an unconventional collection of works by young Nebraska poets. ...
Poems ... range from the prosy to the erotic, addressing an array of topics: love, hatred,
disgust, rage, celebration, racism and sexism. Tributes appear to Pablo Neruda, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, mothers,
fathers, children, ex-girlfriends, former alcoholics.
The poems of The Great American Road Show reflect the struggles encountered in the inevitable
process of living. Clair Cioffero, The Reader (
In Our Own Words:
A Generation Defining Itself
Copyright © 2000
An eclectic sampling of the human condition in all its passions.
Collection KICKS! with X poetry ... The Michigan Daily
Consistently excellent and penetrating verse ... The Times of India
Strong for its spontaneous overflow of emotions ... San Antonio Current