Publication Date:  February 1, 2018
Paperback, 70 pages
ISBN:  978-1-937968-39-7
Booksellers:  Available from
Small Press Distribution
Jacqueline Berger is the author of three previous books: The Mythologies of
, winner of the Bluestem Poetry Prize, Things That Burn, winner of the
Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize, and
The Gift That Arrives Broken, which won the
Autumn House Poetry Prize. Her poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s
Writers Almanac. She is a professor of English and directs the graduate program
at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California. A native of Los
Angeles, Jacqueline lives in San Francisco with her husband.
Poetry exists in the play of language, and the earnest playfulness in Jackie Berger's
new collection begins in her title, where she speaks of "missing" an exit along life's
metaphorical highway, a word with two meanings that both loom large in this work.

In one sense this is the "road not taken," and in the title poem Berger imagines a very
different life she might have lead:

     Stop in a small town for lunch
     or the rest of your life,
     who would you be here?

It is theme to which she returns in more than one poem here, as in the aptly titled "My
Other Life."

But we also "miss" those roads we can no longer travel, the exits that no longer lead  
anywhere we could return, and in that sense much of this collections serves as elegy
for her parents, but also for lost friends from schooldays, old television shows, even
for dying palm trees in Los Angeles.  In a way this collection functions as the "Death
Museum" she visits in one poem; and she reminds us that we are all "Feeding the

                  ...with our bodies,
     waiting to return to our beds.

But for all that, this is not a morbid work.  If it is wistful, it is also wishful.  At the
"Day of Atonement" that closes the collection, she bids

     God, scrawl us in the book
     of stumble, stutter, fail,
     its multi-volumes,
     anthology of near misses, of winging it,
     collected works of lucky guesses,
     hard knocks....

"Missing," Berger tells us, is what we do.  And if we can't go back, we can always go

Praise for The Day You Miss Your Exit:

"Whatever light is shining, was shining, in our lives, Jacqueline Berger preserves
and cherishes in these brilliant new poems. She knows irony and wit as well as
praise, and her voice, in its exact attention to detail, to what is lost, offers luminous
prayer after prayer as she faces the dark music of mortality. Memory is the
instrument and these poems sing with detail and emotional truth and save us all."
                     —Christopher Buckley, author of
Star Journal: Selected Poems

"This strong, shining collection is erected over the ruins of loss—the passing of
both Berger’s parents, and, along with them, the old analog life of the 20th Century.
At turns wry, dark, funny, and hungry for meaning, Berger’s poems give new
voice to grief and aging at a time when even the ways we remember are changing."
                     —Maria Hummel, author of
House and Fire

"No one is harder/to kill than the dead, Jacqueline Berger writes, a line that echoes
through all the poems in
The Day You Miss Your Exit. Big or small, nothing escapes
her attention: a favorite coat, I Dream of Jeannie, the New Orleans’ Museum of
Death. Everything has a place in Berger’s concise and compelling narratives as
she examines intersections of memory and loss, exploring the infinite ways the
past shadows the present."
                     —Bruce Snider, author of
Paradise, Indiana
The Day You Miss
Your Exit
Poetry by
Cover Photograph by Jacki Sackheim, used by permission.
Book designed by Larry W. Moore