CHESTERTOWN, MD—In the cover image of professor Jehanne Dubrow’s latest volume of poetry, tight rows of bullets stand on end like soldiers at attention, their lockstep rigidity broken front and center by an open tube of lipstick. That red-tipped symbol of female sexuality and heat disturbing the relentless monotony of cold, hard metal is a perfect introduction to the storylines Dubrow’s poems trace on the pages inside.
Red Army Red (TriQuarterly Books, October 31, 2012) paints scenes from Cold War Poland and the lifting of the Iron Curtain while it also shares a young girl’s journey through the bewildering geography of puberty and into sexual awakening. Dubrow uses the oppressive language of the Cold War to speak about the oppressive nature of adolescence, and she employs the vocabulary of economic systems—Communism and capitalism—as metaphors for the excesses and deprivations of puberty. “That we experience large-scale, structural traumas as small-scale, personal ones is among the profundities on which Jehanne Dubrow’s Red Army Red is built,” poet H.L. Hix writes on the book jacket.
In many of its details, the book chronicles Dubrow’s own coming of age as the daughter of American diplomats stationed in Poland in the 1980s. Born in Italy, she also spent time with her family in Yugoslavia, Zaire, Belgium and Austria. But for seven of her pre-teen and teenage years, the family lived in Communist-era Warsaw.
Dubrow teaches creative writing and literature and is Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College. Red Army Red is her fourth book. Her first, The Hardship Post, won the Three Candles Press Open Book Award in 2009, and her second, From the Fever-World, won the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Poetry Competition, also in 2009. Stateside was published by Northwestern University Press in 2010. Dubrow’s poetry, creative nonfiction and book reviews have appeared in numerous journals, including Southern Review, The New Republic, Poetry, Ploughshares, The Hudson Review, The New England Review, West Branch, Gulf Coast, Blackbird, Copper Nickel and Prairie Schooner.
Her many honors include the Poetry Society of America’s 2012 Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award, an Individual Artist’s Award from the Maryland State Arts Council, and a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship and Howard Nemerov Poetry Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.