B. Fulton Jennes

After Another January Without Snow, My Husband Imagines the Last Snowfall on Earth

It’ll fall at the top of a remote mountain—a place with no sherpas,
no base camps, no frayed prayer flags flapping in the wind,
because people won’t climb mountains anymore—why bother?–…

Imagine an ordinary morning: Breakfast cups are in the sink, and you are casually chatting about the weather. Suddenly, the conversation becomes deeper: It didn’t snow this January. Will we see snow again?

B. Fulton Jennes draws from this excerpt of everyday life, an ordinary conversation with her husband, to compose a poem of extraordinary evocative power. Strong and deliberately exasperated images follow one after another to tell of climate change and environmental crisis. The pretest of an intimate talk turns into a question for the community, an urgency that is anything but private. As often happens, the most inescapable and complex issues emerge in insignificant moments. In New England, where the writer lives, there was no snow. The feeling is nostalgic: the white snowflakes seem like a distant memory. It arouses melancholy and, at the same time, anger and fear. Will normality ever return? Or is this the new normality to which we are gradually becoming used?

After Another January Without Snow, My Husband Imagines the Last Snowfall on Earth is more than a freer-flowing narrative, more than a literary experiment. It emerges from a sincere concern for the future. This eco-anxiety includes environmental perils such as global warming and melting glaciers, as well as war, nuclear power, and land and ocean pollution—a feeling of danger for the future that sprawls tentacularly across various domains.

Likewise, the composition verses move swiftly between different and dramatic images. B. Fulton Jennes writes in a fluid, energetic, and cinematic manner. In her literary production, she ranges from poems with rigid structures, such as sonnets, pantoums, and ghazals, to poems with freer compositions. The willingness to mutate and experiment is part of her creative process. In the poem, the future is represented as something catastrophic, bordering on dystopian and grotesque, using a lashing vocabulary, but the ending verses remain evocative. The final repetitive refrain is a sort of inner self-reflection, a moment of self-awareness: “We used to love the Earth. Do you remember?”

B. Fulton Jennes mixes poetry and prose, drawing on examples of contemporary novelists and poetic masters. Like George Saunders’ novels, she creates poetic fiction and streams of consciousness from a personal perspective. Poems by Dorianne Laux or Marie Howe also show affinities with her style in their ability to capture metaphysical and spiritual dimensions of everyday life.

Poet laureate emerita of Ridgefield (Connecticut), B. Fulton Jennes has also worked as an educator, introducing students to poetry and organizing workshops and readings. Her poems have appeared in literary journals and anthologies, winning numerous awards, including the recent New Millennium Award and the International Book Award. It is hard to remain indifferent to such a lucid take on collective faults, and it comes back to mind the plentiful snow we encountered as children. It differs from the plastic version children meet today in yet another dazzling amusement park.

B. Fulton Jennes is the Gold Writer of the ArtAscent Future call for writers. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Future issue.

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