The current volume offers a retrospective look at Norita Dittberner-Jax's long career as a poet. The themes and images vary, as have the phases of her personal life, though the underlying continuum of family and community connections sustains the flow. Individual poems often strive to establish a coherent shape, a balance, a beauty, in the midst of challenging and sometimes dreadful experiences, including her beloved husband's last years with ALS and her own diagnosis of cancer. Several recent poems offer naked descriptions of the unexpected sanctity of quotidian events, of dealing with solitude and finding the blessing within seemingly vacant hours and days. From first to last, the poet writes of the comfort and beauty of the natural world, describing the rich life she's lived, her love of art, childhood memories, time spent in the classroom and traveling abroad, and the liveliness of the city. Wistfulness, joy, outrage, and desperation: it's all here, flowing with the lyrical pulse of a ancient Psalm.
Norita Dittberner-Jax was born and raised in the Frogtown neighborhood of Saint Paul, the sixth of seven children. She was educated in parochial schools and graduated from the (then) College of Saint Catherine. She started writing when her children were young, just as the Twin Cities area was becoming a center for creative writing with the emergence of the Loft. She taught English in the public schools of Saint Paul, and creative writing for the Writers-in-the Schools Program and at the Perpich Center for the Arts. Her second marriage, to Eugene Jax, brought international travel and a great interest in art. In retirement from teaching, she returned to academic life, earning an MFA in poetry from Hamline University. Norita is one of the poetry editors for Red Bird Chapbooks.
"What a profound gift to have Norita Dittberner-Jax's new and selected poems gathered in these pages. This collection charts the journey of time—of deep love and loss, homes and unfamiliar lands, the tethering to friends and family—with reverence and awe. Everything from silence to rivers to song is worth savoring. Love it all, this poet reminds us, and I do. I have been a fan of her books across the decades, but this sacred collection is a blessed reminder to live fully and love fearlessly." - Sheila O’Connor
"The poems in World Enough and Time never stray too far from home, yet the mystical world is always, somehow, hovering near. Like the work of May Sarton or Jane Kenyon, Dittberner-Jax's poetry is built around the scaffolding of her life. It carries her 'suitcase of loss'—her neighborhood, the paintings she loves, postcards, poems about dogs, an endearing love for husband and children. Yet it remains untethered and universal, and the reader can always find an open door. These are poems to remember and live by." - Joel Van Valin
"Norita's is an assured and steady voice, fearlessly and tenderly telling life as it is. In this expansive collection of past publications and new, her language is both spare, revealing heartbreak or intense experience, and fulsome, as at a family feast where gratitude presides with joy and good company. The poet is uncommonly brave in facing both large questions and small cruelties, staring down history at Birkenau and memories of a child's shame before a mean teacher. The body—hers and her beloved's—is a subject, whether she is describing the machinery of illness or the peace of her own body as 'a long afternoon, / with only the slightest of winds.' This is a collection that the reader will savor and return to many times." - Carol Masters