No Confession, No Mass

No Confession, No Mass

Jennifer Perrine

Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry Series

82 pages


December 2015


$17.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Whether exploring the porous borders between sin and virtue or examining the lives of saints and mystics to find the human experiences in stories of the divine, the poems in No Confession, No Mass move toward restoration and reunion.

Jennifer Perrine’s poems ask what healing might be possible in the face of sexual and gendered violence worldwide—in New Delhi, in Steubenville, in Juárez, and in neighborhoods and homes never named in the news. The book reflects on our own complicity in violence, “not confessing, but unearthing” former selves who were brutal and brutalized—and treating them with compassion. As the poems work through these seeming paradoxes, they also find joy, celebrating transformations and second chances, whether after the failure of a marriage, the return of a reluctant soldier from war, or the everyday passage of time.

Through the play of language in received forms—abecedarian, sonnet, ballad, ghazal, villanelle, ballade—and in free verse buzzing with assonance, alliteration, and rhyme, these poems sing their resistance to violence in all its forms.

Author Bio

Jennifer Perrine is an associate professor of English and directs the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Drake University. Perrine is the author of In the Human Zoo, recipient of the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize, and The Body Is No Machine, winner of the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Poetry.


No Confession, No Mass is lyrical, inventive, and full of surprises, offering us fresh ways of seeing old stories. The music is a delight throughout—agile and apt—language enjoying itself! Jennifer Perrine writes: ‘and returned her whole, startled raw, launched her back into the world.’ This is what fine poetry can do—and No Confession, No Mass does it.”—Ellen Bass, author of Like a Beggar

Table of Contents



Invocation: [Saint] Genevieve

The Mother, the Girl, the Mirror That Speaks

To Chant Back the Summer

Humility | Pride

For the Lone Man at the Violence Prevention Center

Embarrassment: from baraço (halter)

Envy | Kindness

After My Mother’s Death, I Feel Nothing


Invocation: [Saint] Euphrosyne

A Theory of Violence

The Divorcée’s Fable

Song of the Bystander


A Theory of Violence

’Tis of Thee

Greed | Charity


Patience | Wrath

A Theory of Violence


Invocation: The Blessed Girl, after Her Visions and Vows

Self-Portrait as Francis Bacon

Letter to Half a Lifetime Ago

Love Song with Condemned Building


Call Me

Lust | Chastity


Wild Child (Slight Return)

I Would Rather Die a Thousand Deaths

Ode to the Motorcycle

Dead Letter


Invocation: [Saint] Pharaïldis

Pastoral for Our Uncharted Territories


Temperance | Gluttony

The Mystic Speaks of Attachment

Confidence Game

Wow and Flutter

Diligence | Sloth

Elegy for My Morbid Curiosity

Happiness: from hap (fortune, luck)




2016 Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry from the Publishing Triangle

Washington Independent Review of Books “best book” of poetry for 2015

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