Jill Alexander Essbaum

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Jill Alexander Essbaum
Jill Alexander Essbaum 2015.jpg
Essbaum at the 2015 Texas Book Festival.
Born 1971
Bay City, Texas
Occupation Poet, novelist
Language English
Nationality American
Years active 2000–present

Jill Alexander Essbaum (born 1971 in Bay City, Texas) is an American poet, writer, and professor. Her most recent collections are the full-length manuscripts Harlot (No Tell Motel, 2007) and Necropolis (neoNuma Arts, 2008). Essbaum's poetry features puns, wordplay and dark humor, often mixed with religious and erotic imagery.[1] She currently teaches at the University of California Riverside Palm Desert Graduate Center in the Masters of Creative Writing Graduate Program. Essbaum's debut novel, Hausfrau was published March 2015 (Random House).

Critical response to works[edit]

Publishers Weekly notes, of Hausfrau:

"The realism of Anna’s dilemmas and the precise construction of the novel are marvels of the form, and Essbaum chooses her words carefully."[2]

Agha Shahid Ali wrote:

"Only the best writers put us right at the site of myth and thus assert, for us, our right to be part of the beginning and end of any world, any heaven. That Jill Alexander Essbaum does it so quietly, so delicately, and puts herself, and us, at the center of Heaven itself leads me only to envy. For how else can one convincingly transcend the domestic? There is simply no self-congratulation in these poems. Just a graceful, magical way of taking oneself - and one's bare uncertainties - for granted.[3]

Of Essbaum's work in general, the critic G.M. Palmer, on his literary blog Strong Verse,[1] writes,

Dancing on the edge of her words one finds despair and salvation, often in the same word. She echoes Donne and Plath and riffs on Eliot but has the precise benefit of being alive and full of our time.[1]


  • 1999 Bakeless Prize
  • NEA Literature Grants, 2003 and 2013

Published works[edit]

Poetry Collections

  • Heaven (Middlebury Press, 2000)
  • Oh Forbidden (Pecan Grove Press, 2005)
  • Harlot (No Tell Books, 2007)
  • Necropolis (neoNuma Arts, 2008)


  • The Devastation (Cooper Dillon Books, 2009)



  • The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel (Lulu.com, 2006)
  • The Best American Erotic Poems (Scribner 2008)


External links[edit]