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American Happiness

Jacqueline Trimble

NewSouth Books
$21.95 hardcover
6 x 8  
80 pages
October 2016

American Happiness is an eclectic collection of poems that addresses everything from the death of parents to racial tension to the encroachment of coyotes into urban spaces. The title is taken from a poem in the last section of the book which considers the kinder, gentler exploits of Sheriff Andy and Deputy Barney during a time when Southern law enforcement officers were reputedly neither kind nor gentle. As the speaker points out, “Barney had one bullet/and no need for rope. / The only burning he did was for his Thelma Lou,” a fact that allowed an audience in the midst of racial violence to laugh and “forget/ that outside our own windows/other sheriffs with loaded guns, snarling dogs, and ready hoses/made quick work of a world on fire.” Like the poem, the collection explores how happiness in these United States is often dependent upon the stories we create for ourselves while we ignore the realities outside our own windows. 


"It is cause for celebration that Ms. Trimble is making poetry which is timely and timeless, elegant and brutal, wise and innocent. Highly recommended."
—Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama and Georgia Bottoms
"Jacqueline Trimble is fiercely dedicated to turning everyday life into poetry. She is 'washing off a brown boot/or dozing on a screened porch/or cutting biscuits with a cup/or dreaming of another life/when she stops and takes the knife.' With the incisive knife of her poetry, she also probes America’s racial divide: 'Oh, my beloved country, what is to become of us,/Caught as we are in our own imagined terror?' She is always luminously aware of life’s pleasures and their cost: 'the sun at her back, the wounded in her wake.'" 
—Andrew Hudgins, author of Probably After the Lost War
"Jacqueline Trimble’s treatment of the paradoxical quality of love, of the pain of living and dying, of the blood of black history, and of a flirtation with the existential and transcendental—these and more are written with clarity, power, beauty, and grace. American Happiness is a must read."
—Leonard A. Slade, Jr., Professor of Africana Studies and English, State University of New York at Albany
"Not content with simple answers or easy platitudes, Trimble engages the contrasts and contradictions, even absurdities, of American life in the twenty-first century. Her grace is in the anger distilled to the bitter draft you savor as it bites, in thinking to ask whether Jean-Paul Sartre ever asked Simone de Beauvoir to go to the Winn-Dixie, in the fairy tales she rewrites and the myths of America she questions. This book you hold in your hands will teach and inspire and delight you. Be ready."
—Jennifer Horne, Author of Little Wanderer: Poems and Tell the World You're a Wildflower: Stories