Body Painting

In Hilberry’s poems, the body is a canvas on which a whole range of experiences are painted: grief at the loss of a sister, the adolescent search for God, sexual passion, and ordinary pleasures such as swaying in a hammock, touching the astonishing warmth of a lover’s body, or watching a surfer rise “on the joy of a wave.” Crazy Jane, an alter-ego figure, makes appearances throughout the book, seducing a bear, sleeping in a priest’s bed, and generally transgressing social norms. Ultimately, the book celebrates the poet’s own unconventional choices—to love both men and women, not to have children, to abandon the attempt to find God in church. She ends up loving the impermanent world and the mortal body, wanting only to touch “what’s returning to earth.”


“If this is the book of the body, its lineaments are those of not only erotic but spiritual desire. Here friends and lovers, mothers and children, intermingle as in the morning light and shadow of a forgotten room, and the source of that light is Hilberry’s very distinctive lyric voice, constantly surprising us with its subdued wit and deep understanding of what it means to be human.”—B. H. Fairchild

“Mystical, sensuous, and anguished anthems are sung here. Celebrations of being that are both fierce and tender, wry and vulnerable by turns. If Whitman had settled down enough to love a few men and women intensely and over time, he might have recorded those experiences in poems as rich as these, and been as pleased with them as Hilberry’s readers will with these.”—Gregory Orr

Yellow text stating Body Painting poems by Jane Hilberry over a black background with the image of a naked woman's body covered in paint.

Jane Hilberry

Publication Date: August 1, 2005

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Red Hen Press

$13.95 Tradepaper

Shop: Red Hen, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble

ISBN: 1-59709-013-1

Download the Press Kit Here


B.H. Fairchild reviews Body Painting

Body Painting Jane Hilberry. Red Hen (CDC, dist.) $13.95 (72 p) ISBN 1-59709-013-1If this is the book of the body, its lineaments are those of not only erotic but spiritual […]