Finalist, Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize
In this powerful, intimate collection, a young woman travels between Paris and New York to pursue a career in modelling. Alternating between the world of fashion, where “it’s no longer enough / that the sample size fits,” and the eponymous Program, a place to “discover / what’s underneath,” Jones’s debut collection pulls the reader deep into the realms of psychiatric care and romantic relationships and probes a long tradition of female suffering.
Taking inspiration from New York school poets such as Frank O’Hara, Jones employs an unadorned and at times funny narrative style that also calls to mind the work of Sheila Heti and Sally Rooney. Summoning images from the worlds of fashion, art, and therapy, and exploring the allure of pain and of suffering, The Program is a compelling debut about how we are seen, and how we see ourselves.
About the author
Megan Fennya Jones’s poetry has appeared in publications across North America including Poetry Northwest, Room Magazine, and PRISM International, in the anthology The City Series Number One: Vancouver, and the chapbook Normal Women. She lives in Vancouver.
- Short-listed, Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize
“A lyric Künstlerroman that explodes inherited scripts about art and suffering. Megan Fennya Jones flickers between worldly glamour and harrowing interiority with deadpan humour and hard-earned wisdom. Parisian museums and the highways of Spain contrast with psychiatric worksheets and sad girls in sweatpants, while Jones’s poetry explores the embodied toll of femininity with terrifying lucidity.”
Adèle Barclay, author of <i>Renaissance Normcore</i>
“Ultimately, this is a book about healing, and the human capacity for psychological survival in the face of impossible pain: how brilliant it is, really, that we find ways to keep going, even if it’s those strategies that harm us in the end.”
<i>Hamilton Review of Books</i>
“The Program has a cutting, deceptively breezy sincerity, like the wind full of needles. With a crafted effortlessness, Jones pins down the grotesquely gendered experience of being seen and acted upon as a beautiful object in the world. These poems not only probe the meaning of being (or being used as) a model, but they also transform the noun into a verb — refashioning the narrative around sickness, pain, healing, and survival while letting girls keep their imperfect, messy humanity.”
Domenica Martinello, author of <i>All Day I Dream about Sirens</i>
“I adore this book, its narrative, its voice, its struggle. Jones tells a familiar story of the body being used, with some complicity and ambition on the part of the body’s owner, but as the poems go on, the divide between the body and the voice grows. The craft and care of the poems returns to the thoughts now, and the thoughts then, even as it unspools its speaker’s glamorous and unglamorous travels. The Program attains a different beauty, more enduring than a photo shoot.”
Ed Skoog, author of <i>Travellers Leaving the City</i>
“Each poem reads like a body that we come to examine, transport within, and sometimes float away from. Poetry that breaks down the modelling world to show bodies as commodities, as flesh, as suits, but always returning us to the person being photographed and the psychological effects of the industry.”
Daniel Zomparelli, founder of <i>Poetry Is Dead</i> magazine