Love Comes First
Erica Jong

Penguin Group
Hardcover/112 pages
ISBN: 978-1-58542-684-3
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". . . motives in each piece are clear, yet challenging."

Don’t expect Erica Jong’s new book of poems, Love Comes First, to be as scandalous as her famous 1970s novel, Fear of Flying, the story of a woman’s uninhibited sexual desires and search for freedom. Decades later, Jong is writing about death, war, immortality, mythology, and her connection with nature and her environment.

The book is divided into three sections. The first is entitled You Are There and includes image-rich poems with intellectual purpose about the human relationship with the earth, light, plants and places. She captures the “Rapture” of a flying hawk, the death of a friend and the beginning of life in a Petri dish. Her verse poems are solemn about common situations.

In the second section, People Who Can’t Sleep, her poems are strong, pointed and filled with courage. She approaches war head on, with calculated intent. In her poem When Jew Kills Jew she strikes out at human distresses back to the time of Cain and Abel, as well as Judas and Jesus. Two of the stanzas in the poem read:

Without the law,
without our brothers,
what is a Jew,
but a convert,
hiding from the light.



When Jews adopt jihad,
the Inquisition reigns
and Hitler becomes
the new Messiah.


In this same poem, her metaphors reach back to mythology—the thunderbolts of Zeus and Thor. She dwells on life’s purpose—what is left once sleep takes over our lives?

The final section is devoted to her muse, Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Jong speaks directly to her about the lovers who have passed through her life, her relationship with the planets, and her destiny.

Jong’s poems are accessible, yet offer intellectual complexities with her metaphors. Her motives in each piece are clear, yet challenging. I expected something different from this original “bad girl” writer, but instead I have been rewarded with a collection of stimulating poetry.

Reviewer: Kate Padilla