Review of "A Blister of Stars" in Coal Hill Review.

litYoungstown Reading Series

Jen Ashburn's poem "Anxiety on The Writer's Almanac

Singapore Unbound/Second Saturday Reading Series


Freedom of Expression. Equal Rights for All.
SECOND SATURDAYS READING SERIESOn March 11, 7-9 pm, Second Saturdays features a pair of poets from Pittsburgh, Jason Irwin and Jen Ashburn, who look at life with an unflinching yet compassionate gaze. They will read from their new books A Blister of Stars and The Light on the Wall. Potluck and open-mic as usual. Please RSVP Jee at for directions.
Jason Irwin was born with a litany of birth defects. A Blister of Stars (Low Ghost Press, 2016) is Irwin's interrogation of his own biography. His poems reveal the terror felt by a child confused about what is happening to his body; the endless surgeries and difficult recoveries, the strain it all puts on his parents both emotionally and financially. Irwin's luminous, reflective poems strive for solace in the face of horror, hold fast to faith while staring into the void.  Jason is also the author of Watering the Dead (Pavement Saw Press, 2008), winn…

Jen Ashburn's Book Launch Reading 1/28/17


On the evening of January 28th, alumna Jennifer Ashburn released her new poetry book, The Light on the Wall. At Irma Freeman Center, Ashburn read with special guests Daniela Buccilli, Brittany Hailer, and Scott Silsbe. Emcee Paula Levin led the book launch.
First, Ashburn read multiple pieces from the new publication. Buccilli and Silsbe read poetry, while Hailer shared nonfiction.
“I had it in mind to write about my travels, but the family poems kept creeping in. For a while it seemed like I was writing two different collections. In the end, the family and travel poems worked together to essentially tell the story of my life thus far,” Ashburn said.
With themes of family dysfunction, mental illness, and the “uncomfortableness, escapism, and wonder of travel,” The Light on the Wall is her first full-length poetry book.
At the event, Ashburn also started a collection for a local community organization, Bethlehem Haven, which supports women wh…


A review of Jen Ashburn's poetry collection from The Rumpus.

This week, we’ll look atThe Light on the Wall(Main Street Rag, January 2017) by poet Jen Ashburn. This collection, her first, opens and closes with poems about her schizophrenic mother and dysfunctional family, a frame around the author’s life and travels. In the titular poem, Ashburn uses description (“the evening light soaked everything/in the color of plums—not the skin of plums, or the flesh,/but that deep orange-red that bleeds in between”) to build tension until she arrives at the moment of describing her mother tucking her sheets in around her, restraining her. The poem ends simply, in the same way earthquake mechanics are simple, but devastating: “My mother/was breaking. Even the light on the wall knew.” The poems that follow offer similar earthquake-like simplicity, whether about family or the time she spent traveling in Asia. She explores the di…