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Rod Jellema
“What is new and
comparatively rare in poets
is [Jellema’s] discovery that
a lyrical impulse and a
meditative urgency may
alternate, feed off each
other, disguise themselves
as each other… [His poems]
show a technique forged
from confrontation with the
demands of content to
become formal.  That is
what good poets can do and
less good poets can never
         William Matthew
Incarnality: The Collected Poems

By and about

Listen to

Rod Jellema's interview on The Poet and the Poem with Grace Cavalieri

Regarding Rod Jellema
Poet, teacher

Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland, where he was the founding director of the Creative
Writing Program, Rod Jellema began working as a poet in the middle of his career as a teacher of
modern literature, at age forty. He subsequently produced five books of poems, the latest of which,

The Collected Poems ,was published in October 2010. The four earlier books are A
Slender Grace, Something Tugging the Line, The Lost Faces and The Eighth Day: New and
Selected Poems.

He was twice awarded poetry writing fellowships by the National Endowment for the Arts, and was
many times a resident fellow at Yaddo. He edited and translated two books of poetry from the North
Sea language of Frisian:
County Fair: Poems from Friesland Since 1945 and The Sound that
Remains: a Historical Collection of Frisian Poetry
. For this work he was awarded Friesland's
highest literary honor, the Pieter Jelles prize, and the Columbia University Translation Prize, 1986.

Rod grew up in Holland, Michigan and in Ann Arbor, Michigan: he was educated at Calvin College
(B.A.).  And received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland). He has spent most of his
adult life in the Washington, DC area, with summers spent in his native dunelands on Lake Michigan.

Much of his work as a poet culminates in his latest book, Incarnality. On the way to this one, James
Wright noted in the earlier books " a set of poems entirely remarkable for the physical pungency of
their language, their muscular and sensitive rhythms...Some of the poems are positively harrowing in
their effectiveness, the truth and depth of their feeling, which, of course, can only be revealed by the
most careful, intelligent craftsmanship."

Currently he is back at work on a long-time project: a book on the history of early New Orleans jazz
Really Hot: A New Hearing for Old New Orleans Jazz (co-authored with the late Gordon

For more on Rod Jellema, please go to
Library of Congress Interview/Reading (download)
Eerdmans Publishing Author's Page
Dryad Press
"This moving body of work tells us what is holy in Rod
Jellema's world--not spirit alone, nor flesh alone, but their
melding; not wind alone, but blown hair and leaves and
"swimsuits tossed on the vine to dry."  In this world, a
word is a thing-- a thing breathed through, infused with
breath and life.  Just so, these poems make of words a
life, and they invite us to celebrate and remember what
abounds and abides, what matters, what sings."
                                         Margaret Gibson
Photo by Chris Paulis