IN THE TIME OF PrEP (chapbook)
Forthcoming Spring 2018 from Beloit Poetry Journal
AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE ONLINE:
"In this country, AIDS is no longer a quick death sentence. Jacques J. Rancourt, born the year AZT was released, makes visible its wreckage in the present. The plague years—queer bodies kissed by death and public scorn—shadow the speaker as he cruises, travels, and marries. Living and loss collide, twine. Rancourt’s language is finely chiseled, attentive to the spiritual and the carnal. IN THE TIME OF PrEP is a remarkable chapbook. Each page reminds us to live, to remember."
--Eduardo C. Corral, Slow Lightning
"These compelling poems look back to the tragedy of AIDS and to its imprint on the city of San Francisco. In the process, they give new meaning to the term "nature poem". They do justice to the wrenching relation between past and present. But the real power of these poems occurs as we see them shifting the poet towards rich and ambiguous dilemmas: towards language and laments that reveal a speaker excluded by a past he cannot enter and a present he cannot inhabit."
--Eavan Boland, New Collected Poems
"Jacques J. Rancourt’s rapturous poems look backwards and forwards at once. Living “half / in this world, half in another,” they interrogate desire and queer history, showing us how one generation struggles to understand the one before. Like all essential art, they take the long view, reminding us of what passes, what endures. We’re lucky to have this book in the world, proof of a prodigious talent and of a wise and generous heart."
--Bruce Snider, Paradise, Indiana
In poems inspired by and sometimes borrowing their forms from the novena, a nine-day Catholic prayer addressing and seeking intercession from the Virgin Mary, Jacques Rancourt explores the complexities of faith, desire, beauty, and justice. Novena is a collection that invites prayer not to symbols of dogmatic perfection but to those who are outcast or maligned, LGBTQ people, people in prison, people who resist, people who suffer and whose suffering has not been redeemed. In Novena, the Virgin Mary is recast as a drag queen, religious icons are merged with those who are abolished, and spiritual isolation is scrutinized in a queer pastoral.
Raw. Restless. Elegant. Shimmering. Jacques Rancourt’s Novena charts the unions and ruins of desire, of love and its many discontents, in vivid landscapes of sonic beauty. These sensual, daring poems explode the confessional mode as they search for the Self and for the father who share the same name. Generations divide and blur like a gorgeous, heaving novel by García Márquez, surreal and delightful and bent, where mythological sirens are made male and lusted after by Odysseus, “their bodies exposed like oysters.” What is worthy of worship, holy, god-like, these poems boldly ask? Young boys dancing in nightgowns while singing Whitney Houston, a mythical Deerman who shows the speaker how to love the bodies of men, or Our Lady of Dreadlocks whose stubble returns “like spring grass”? This timeless, boundless speaker warns us, seduces us: “we are alive//only a short time. What is the purpose/of a field if not to lie in it?” You will want to read this glorious first book again and again: “This rapture hallelujah,/this inferno goddamn.”
--Hadara Bar-Nadav, Lullaby (with Exit Sign)
Jacques Rancourt is a votary of desire and a faithful disciple to memory. At the edge of winter, upon the dark stairways and icy precipices of longing, this devotional poet finds affirming comfort even in breakage, fire and storm. This is a holy book, a pilgrim's progress of erotic, mystical and terrifying beauty.
--D. A. Powell, Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys
In his astonishing debut collection, Novena, Jacques Rancourt writes, “I gave to winter what belonged / to winter. The rest I cut free with a knife.” These are poems both numinous and steely, transgressive yet worshipful, the body and the landscape it inhabits on full display. “Hand of insurrection that resurrects the hem,/ return my self to myself.” This is a poetry that reminds us through its unabashed lyricism that adoration, i.e. love, requires humility. Novena burns with insight.
--Quan Barry, Loose Strife