Jen Hirt is first and foremost a nature writer. Having grown up in her family’s greenhouse in Ohio, her latest essay collection, Hear Me Ohio takes us on a journey from Iowa to Idaho to Pennsylvania and Maine, as she grapples with the meaning of her varied and often mundane experiences traversing the country through multiple job searches, to a “reality house” church, a man and his ball of string, the views from her front porch where she muses on the lives of spiders and befriends a stray cat, to the forest where she and her dog encounter dead deer, and on the waterfront at her home in Harrisburg, where she grapples with a premonition about a dead body.
Jen Hirt’s gift is her attentive and detailed descriptions of the natural landscape—both flora and fauna—allowing us to travel alongside her, revealing herself and, sometimes, her family, through her peripatetic life seemingly searching for meaning and magic in all things, not the least of which include bats, one-eyed deer, and unicorns. Hirt always finds her way home, to Ohio—in a hundreds-year old horseradish bottle, her family’s history, and her mother’s death. Insightful and contemplative, this collection of short meditations is a beautiful and thought-provoking compilation of memoir essays.
Hear Me Ohio by Jen Hirt. The University of Akron Press, March 2020.
Reviewer bio: Shannon Frystak, Ph.D. is a Professor of History at East Stroudsburg University where she specializes in Black, Women, and Civil Rights History. She is the author of Our Minds on Freedom: Women and the Struggle for Black Equality in Louisiana, 1924-1967, and is currently working on a collection of essays Confessions of an Academic Bartender: Essays on Life Inside and Outside of the Guild.
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