Stopping for Breath the fourth poetry collection by Norita Dittberner-Jax moves through the sunlight and shadows of a life lived intensely with both conscience and a rare sensitivity to those brief moments of delight that so often arrive unexpectedly and linger hardly at all. In one poem she expresses her appreciation for the old trees that distinguish a coffee shop terrace on a near-perfect Saturday morning in another she describes leading a tour for children at an art museum-they love the brass elevator best. But there are also peace vigils an observant look at the social interactions of a neighborhood gym poems about cats and dogs and near-metaphysical musings that call Wisława Szymborska to mind. Bit by bit Dittberner-Jax's childhood years come into sharper focus and the wonderful life of travel and commitment she shares with her husband. "Before IKEA Delivers the Bed" for example is a remembrance short and sweet of seventy-two hundred nights spent together-some in snoring others in bliss.
In the end this combination of worldly experience astute description and playful appreciation is hard to resist. But the reader is less likely to stop for breath-the pace is steady-than to marvel at the elements that have been brought together economically to form a perfect whole: a vision a poem a life well lived.
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. After her first marriage and the birth of three children she began to write poetry 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. Crossing The Waters is her fifth collection of poems.