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Jacob Steinberg

Jacob Steinberg is the author of This isn't about Jon Ross, it's about art and Your Eyes Saw My Unformed Limbs. His Spanish poetry collection Magulladón is forthcoming on Editorial Triana in Buenos Aires. He is the editor of chronos (loves) kairos and int lit library.

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“There is something deeply individual, something dear only to Steinberg himself, that goes to exemplify just how complicated love as an art form can be. We find ourselves rooting for Steinberg over the course of time, as the tone of each poem is reshaped a bit more toward a necessary realization until that realization is at last completely fulfilled. Again, this is not about Jon Ross.”

– Matt Margo, author of When Empurpled

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This isn't about Jon Ross, it's about art.

The Tradition of Pain As Poetic Fodder Continues: The Burn of Loss and How to Cope

11/10/11

The term “raw” is too often used to mean “brutal” or “intense.” If a part of your body is raw, it doesn’t feel brutal; it just hurts. It’s a simple hurt, but one that never stops. You may be distracted from it for a few moments with someone walking by or speaking to you, but the moment you’re stuck with only yourself again, the pain will return. The short poetry book This isn’t about Jon Ross, it’s about art is a true representation of “rawness.”

Jacob Steinberg collected poems, text messages, and even website stats to show multiple facets of a failed connection between the speaker and the object of desire, Jon Ross. Arranged chronologically, these facets build to a tiny, self-referential gem of a relationship that falls from infatuation into pain, and like rawness, the poems are plain, direct, and exposed.

“Everything about you would make me want to plunge my / face into that oil / if I hadn’t turned you into such an object / for my poetic consumption.”

Steinberg uses pieces of Ariana Reines’ Coeur de Lion as an interlude between poems and as an epitaph. I haven’t read Coeur de Lion, so I can’t speak to how the effect of her book influences this one. I asked Steinberg to explain her influence upon the creation of Jon Ross: “I think that Reines’ tone in Coeur de Lion, the way that she describes the full range of emotions associated with falling out of love with such direct words, blunt and rambling and unabashed, gave me the confidence to say what I felt like saying, to not be embarrassed or ashamed of how I felt.”

This lack of shame is evident in Jon Ross, and it supports the assertions and discoveries he reveals throughout the book. For example:

“[I]t felt good to admit that I wanted to cry on the phone a lot / in my own language.”

This directness may give hints of “meta” at times, such as the speaker referring to his own poetry or blog, but these aren’t winking references to the writer being a poet — these are presentations of reality that induct the reader into the speaker’s world, which speaks to Steinberg’s intentions: “I really wanted to capture what I think [Reines] executes perfectly, which is being a kind of madwoman saying absurd and uncomfortable things that the reader ultimately relates to and recognizes in [his or her]self.”

For a short, painful taste of raw emotion and loss of love, see This isn’t about Jon Ross, this is about art.

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1 Comment

  1. Jordan Blum said on 11/13/11 at 5:06 pm Reply

    Having recently come out of a 4 year relationship with someone who I THOUGHT was my soul mate, I can relate to this entire notion. Hopefully, in time, I’ll be totally out of love instead of stuck in this cognitive dissonance between my heart and my head. Anyway, I like the line:

    ““Everything about you would make me want to plunge my / face into that oil / if I hadn’t turned you into such an object / for my poetic consumption.””

    As writers, this is how we channel our revenge and hurt. I would LIKE to react physically, but instead, I’ll turn you into the focus on my art. Brilliant; if only I could do that now ha-ha.

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