Paperback Price: $15.95
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-938584-26-8

Selected Poem

Of a Piece

Our ears are turned to scraping
desks in rows. Chalk on a chalkboard,

a bell at noon. So our eyes
rise, follow the chalk, what's left behind.

A piece of chalk, dust like pixels,
pressing silk to slate. Each seat facing

the erasing. Looking for what's left, the rest.
Wanting to know what'll be on the test.


A 2017 Minnesota Public Radio Best Book of the Year

“McDonough works to humanize the technologies that carry out our most dreadful acts and forces us to examine the ways in which we abandon—or, perhaps more accurately, ignore—our agency in order to protect our fragile consciences.”

“While it may sound as if Reaper is a grim book, full of dire poems on technology, the opposite is true. This is a most human book, peppered with poems that reveal human emotions.”
Rain Taxi

“It’s a dark, and darkly hilarious, book that manages to delight and disturb at the same time.”
–Minnesota Public Radio

“…knowing what you don’t know can turn out to be more than enough. Jill McDonough’s new book […] broods over the technology of war — in particular the development of robots, drones and other methods of outsourcing human intelligence and morality to code and circuits.” –David Orr, The New York Times Book Review

“McDonough examines the distancing of culpability and repercussions that follow when there’s a computer screen and a continent between a soldier and the dead. . . . Her writing is gritty and unapologetic, refusing to let even the reader off the hook.”
Literary Hub

Reaper knocked me flat with its utter breathlessness, its grim and terrifying lyricism, and its relentless re-angling of the magical haven we like to call the future. In deftly crafted stanzas that shove urgently at our perceptions, McDonough paints a stark picture of a soulless tomorrow ruled by the technologies of convenience—a tomorrow we just might stop if we could.”
—Patricia Smith

“Words that come to mind to describe Jill McDonough’s agile, alert poems are: humanity, sociability, clear-eyed, oxygen-filled, and humor. Also: morally serious and deeply thoughtful. Reaper’s such a readable book—in tone, so intimate and cheerful—that one almost doesn’t notice that it’s full of poems about technology, death, and war. Also love, also hope: ‘…we have all the time anybody else/in the world gets. All the time we need to say/the right thing, find new right things to say.’”
—Daisy Fried



  1. Jill McDonough Interview – 24PearlStreet: Sidewalk Talk - April 2, 2017

    […] Be sure to check out Jill’s new book, Reaper! […]

  2. Reaper, Jill McDonough – THE WANDERER - April 10, 2017

    […] McDonough’s books of poems include Habeas Corpus (Salt, 2008), Where You Live (Salt, 2012), and Reaper (Alice James, 2017). The recipient of three Pushcart prizes and fellowships from the Lannan […]

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