Jenny Molberg

“Our parents shape the way we witness the world; our identities, which often seem fixed, experience metamorphoses akin to the caterpillar’s. In this handful of poems, I grapple with the heft of the unseen: the caterpillar’s transformation within the cocoon, the father’s grief, the ‘nebula’ of childhood, the absence a childless person might feel. These poems, all of which appear in my forthcoming collection, Marvels of the Invisible, see the self as ever-evolving. In ‘Fourth State of Matter’ and ‘Storm Coming,’ I consider the way shadows of our parents fall across our present lives and, perhaps paradoxically, what those shadows help us to see.

‘Chrysalis’ considers the unseen transformation of the caterpillar as a metaphor for the evolving self, and ‘Sound of the Spinning Wheel’ confronts an unsettling absence of a child. In the latter poem, where the muse is depicted as a kind of duende figure, I hope to unpack the weight of the unsaid and the power that listening (to the past, to language) holds. Language, the invisible adhesive that holds us together, can also fail us. Thus we must listen, the way one might listen to a storm, as in ‘Storm Coming.’ The speaker reads the face of the father, looking for evidence of the self. Though the storm, like the self, is ephemeral, language as art can temporarily arrest a moment, tilting it toward the light.”

Jenny Molberg’s debut collection, Marvels of the Invisible, won the 2014 Berkshire Prize and is forthcoming from Tupelo Press in 2016. Her poems have appeared in North American Review, Copper Nickel, The New Guard, Mississippi Review, The Adroit Journal, Smartish Pace, Zone 3 and other journals. She is the recipient of the 2013 Third Coast poetry prize and was featured in Best New Poets 2014. Molberg holds an MFA from American University and a PhD from the University of North Texas. She currently teaches at the University of Central Missouri and is poetry editor for Pleiades. Find her online at