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Dzanc Books is nonprofit press specializing in literary fiction and nonfiction. In addition to publishing activities, Dzanc Books also supports the Disquiet International Literary Program.

Knock Wood by Jennifer Militello

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Knock Wood by Jennifer Militello


Knock Wood by Jennifer Militello


Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Paperback: 144 pages
ISBN: 978-1-945814-96-9

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Like Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries or Claire Dederer’s Love and Trouble, award-winning poet Jennifer Militello’s Knock Wood tells the story of a family and a woman growing up.  Anchored by a wooden ring and the superstition of a knock that prevents misfortune, Knock Wood centers on three intertwined elements: the life of a mentally ill aunt in an abusive marriage; Jennifer’s high school romance with a boy who eventually dies of a heroin overdose; and an extra-marital affair characterized by an otherworldly connection. Cause and effect reverse as significant events—an arrest for a felony committed in high school, a trip by train to meet an illicit lover, and a suicide attempt on those same New York tracks—seem to influence one another outside of time and space.


“With the lyrically textured and crystalline prose of a master poet, Knock Wood captures the elusive and mysterious nature of time itself, of our one dance on this earth that may not be our last, this urgent need of ours to love and to be loved, our propensity to fail at both and to try again, to suffer and to rise and to fall and yes, to perhaps live once more. This brave and mesmerizing memoir lays bare all of this with sentence after evocative sentence whose shimmering beauty I will never forget. Knock Wood is an absolute wonder, and Jennifer Militello is at the top of her form.”
—Andre Dubus III, author of Townie and The House of Sand and Fog

“[T]he collection is largely an exquisite example of the modern gothic: shadowy, beset by menacing weather and violent feelings, and positively bewitching.”
Publishers Weekly

“These poems don't merely delve the psyche's depths, they harrow, and they harrow fantastic.”
—Cate Marvin, author of Fragment

Body Thesaurus is a haunted and haunting voyage through the body's analogies, which expand to embrace whole worlds: the sensual, the material, and the spiritual.”
—G. C. Waldrep, author of Goldbeater's Skin

Flinch of Song simply astounds.”
—Christina Cook, Poets Quarterly


JENNIFER MILITELLO is the author of A Camouflage of Specimens and Garments (Tupelo Press, 2016), called “positively bewitching” by Publishers Weekly; Body Thesaurus (Tupelo Press, 2013), named one of the top books of 2013 by Best American Poetry; and Flinch of Song, winner of the Tupelo Press First Book Award. Her poetry and nonfiction have been published widely in such journals as American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Mid-American Review, The Nation, The New Republic, The Paris Review, Poetry, and Tin House. She teaches in the MFA program at New England College.