Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors compare their recently released books to weird things. This week Jessica Jopp writes about From the Longing Orchard, her new novel out from Red Hen Press.
If From the Longing Orchard were a Girl Scout, she would dream of canvas shorts and jackknives, wonder why the troop had to be out in the world selling cookies instead of carving ships.
If From the Longing Orchard were an otter, she would slip under mossy stones and come up from the stream bed shimmering, marveling at her own coat in the afternoon sun.
If From the Longing Orchard were a piece of her beloved mother’s jewelry, it would be a silver spoon ring she wore in the 1970s and that her daughter recalls seeing on her hand as she raised a coffee cup to her lips in the early morning.
If From the Longing Orchard were a food or drink, it would be the kind that invites a long slow savor, a honey-tinged rich black tea on a winter day.
If From the Longing Orchard were a line from Shakespeare, it would be Polonius’ “To thine own self be true.”
If From the Longing Orchard were an organism, it would be a mycelium network, mysterious with subterranean interconnected tendrils, whose evidence emerges here and there on the forest floor, green and startling.
If From the Longing Orchard were a weaving, a tapestry hung on a wall, observed close up it would reveal intricate overlapping woolen fibers, tightly held. If the viewer stepped back a few paces, the weaving would exhibit the wonder of sloped landscapes and infinite rivers, their connections visible only from that distance.
Jessica Jopp grew up in New York State. She holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. From the Longing Orchard is her first novel. Also an award-winning poet, Jopp has published her work in numerous journals, among them POETRY, The Texas Observer, Seneca Review, and Denver Quarterly. Her poetry collection The History of a Voice was awarded the Baxter Hathaway Prize in Poetry from Epoch, and it was published in January 2021 by Headmistress Press. Jopp teaches in the English Department at Slippery Rock University. She lives in Indiana, Pennsylvania, where she is on the board of a non-profit working to protect a community woodland.