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Nancy Jasper

Nancy JasperNancy Jasper is a clinical social worker.  She has been losing her sight for several years.  Assistive technology has helped her stay playful on the keyboard. 


Nancy has published seven micro-chapbooks with the Origami Poems Project. In 2015, the OPP nominated her for a Pushcart Prize.  Her poems have also appeared in Leviathan, Gávea-Brown, The Wrackline, and the anthology, Missing Providence. 

Nancy’s poems and essays have also been heard on the Rhode Island affiliate of National Public Radio, as part of their This I Believe series. 

Here are links to the radio pieces:  Bearing Blindness and The Power of Poetry.

Nancy’s collection of Icelandic poems, Egil Is Baffled By Grief, is available through Amazon. It has been warmly praised by Nancy Marie Brown, who observes that the poems trick us into seeing the old stories in new ways.

 ►  Nancy's microchaps & selected poems are available below.  Download the single-page microchap by clicking the title.  To read the selected poems, also click the titles.

Origami Microchap

Selected Poem(s)

Coston Light  


Nancy Jasper CVR Coston Light


The Coston light was a system of night signaling
based on flares, set off in sequences,
that mapped onto codes.
It was a language.
A language you had to set on fire.
It was developed by Martha Coston in the
mid-nineteenth century during a time
not especially hospitable to female inventors.
It was originally designed for the U.S. Navy.
It gave the Navy a significant advantage in
communication and coordination
during the Civil War and became a staple
of the U.S. Life-Saving Service.



For Martha

(for Martha Coston, 1826-1904)
It took her almost a decade
of false starts
and balky pyrotechnics,
but finally
she found three colors
that would run true
at night.
An emergency language
of coded flares;
across water.
Nancy Jasper © 2018


Cover: Giantess gives out
shit and honey
by Lauri Burke

These poems are based on an old Norse story
about how gods and humans
received the gift of poetic inspiration.  
They are based on Snorri Sturluson’s
account in his Edda.  

Snorri’s account is wonderfully episodic.
In the central episode, Odin agrees to spend
three nights with a giantess, in exchange
for three sips  of the Mead of Poetry.
He cheats, and escapes with all of the mead.  

Commotion and Lucky follow Snorri’s story,
more or less.

The third poem re-imagines the three nights
with the giantess.



He took  
long sips.  
He was cheating
the giantess.  
The first poetry  
into him.
He escapes
in the form  
of an eagle.
Her father  
follows him,
in the shape
of an eagle.
The god, alarmed
some of the poetry,
it out,
Great poets  
are nourished  
by what he brought
to Asgard.  
The rest of us  
find chunks
of bird shit,
count ourselves  
Nancy Jasper © 2016


Snorri Sturluson by Haukur Stefánsson
By kind permission of Snorrastofa director,
Bergur Þorgeirsson


Snorri Learns The World Is Wide

Snorri’s journey toward wisdom
when a woman offered to cut away
his father’s eye,
a gesture
towards an old story.
His father kept the eye,
traded the threat
for a transaction.
his youngest son,
into a world of influence and learning.
Snorri was three years old.
He left his father’s home.
He would learn to love libraries,
and to scheme east,
across the water.
He would learn the world is wide
and its coasts,
deeply indented.
Nancy Jasper © 2015


The Heart of Fado

Cover: Portuguese Guitar
(Coimbra guitarra)


The Birth of Fado

They tell us
fado was born
in the heart of a sailor.
He remembers
the generosity of earth.
Leaves, flowers, fruit.
A woman.
loves this sailor.
She loves him
because he gives himself
to fado.
He lets it
come through him
All he has is memory
and a voice.
He had not known
his voice was beautiful.
Nancy Jasper © 2015




Cover art from the Web


Egil Swims Away From Europe

Those were the days
in which Harold Fairhair
locked up Norway,
consolidated his hegemony,
combed down cowlicks.
Egil was unmanageable,
he was always starting up.
He could escape from anything.
He was a regular Houdini.
Once, his enemies tied him up,
left him to stew all night
over what they would do to him in the morning.
His large head schemed.
He threw the knots
into other-dimensioned space
until they loosened.
He escaped,
burned down the house.
Egil got tired of Europe.
He was an independent man.
He preferred the integrity of revenge
to law or social usage.
He dived into the water,
until he heard the basaltic muttering,
the techtonic plates
where Europe bumps up against North America.
Nancy Jasper © 2014



Cover Photo: www.wired.co.uk


Tudo Isto é Fado

The fado singers have a dog.
They tell us everything is fado,
is beyond the reach of fado.
So the dog must be fado,
The singing of fado is stylized and passionate.
Gestures with dark shawls,
generational tides of longing.
The dog waits outside the tent.
He is good.
Then he is not good.
He runs onto the stage.
His heart cannot be contained.
Nancy Jasper © 2014
Dedicated to Ana & Jose Vinagre & their dog, Binnie


Reasonable Accomodations

Cover Art from the Web:


Transit Street

In 1769
citizen astronomers
built a platform
near streets now called Transit and Planet.
They assembled their instruments
to time
the Transit of Venus
as she passed between Fox Point and the sun.
Today, a brass band
winds through this neighborhood.
The Holy Rosary
Pentecost procession.
The men’s red ties
are memories of flames.
Banners, trumpets, drums
the old desire
for a local connection to immensity.

Nancy Jasper © 2013