artwork by Claire Keane
little astronaut is a little book of early motherhood poems and writings, three of which are in Mike Birbiglia’s The New One on Broadway at The Cort Theater, October 25, 2018- January 20, 2019.
more about little astronaut:
There’s that moment in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, when Emily Webb asks from the grave, “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? –every, every minute?” “No,” she’s told. “The saints and poets, maybe. —they do some.” J. Hope Stein realizes life not just as she lives it, but as she gives it. In little astronaut we feel her give life, feed life, and wait for the time when the person she made must live life, “every, every minute” all on its own. I don’t know from Saints. But J. Hope Stein is Poet. I read this collection, choked-up, laughing, and in awe.
❤ John Mulaney ❤
J. Hope Stein is one of my favorite poets. Her images are outrageously vivid and memorable. Her music is alive, is unpredictable, is tender, is voracious.
little astronaut is a beautiful orchestration of the strange experience we call human. There is humor here, and wisdom. This astronaut shows us how to find, among the most mundane details, a little bit of magic. In our era of so much destruction and disappointment, what luck to come across this bundle of laughter.
❤ Ilya Kaminsky ❤
In Little Astronaut, J. Hope Stein writes a parental love so new to her, so overwhelming, that the poems read almost as if Stein were the first person to feel parental love at all. Rarely do such poems so thoroughly inhabit the moment. These poems convince me, effortlessly, that I am seeing the world new.
❤ Shane McCrae ❤
The brave, electric, hilarious and indelibly true poems of LITTLE ASTRONAUT convey the utter shock that is, has always been, and will always be…parenthood.
❤ Jean Hanff Korelitz ❤
Through J. Hope Stein, the reader sees mothering an infant as a primal force to be reckoned with. Tempered by humor and love, J. Hope Stein puts us in it, in her very bodily experience of it. I weaned my son years ago, and … uh … I was afraid my milk was going to come in while reading these funny, irreverent, intense poems.
❤ Joanna Penn Cooper ❤
note about little astronaut
little astronaut was written in a time in which it felt like our country was being torn apart. Despite the fact that I was working with a broad-ranging 100+ page manuscript, when it was done with me, little astronaut surprised me. It wanted to be small and distilled down to a less than 30-page piece. It didn’t want to speak about my larger country, it wanted to speak about my intimate country and what tethers me.
Works like Lin Miranda’s Dear Theodosia and Ilya Kaminsky’s lullaby were playing in my mind. Both are embedded in historically important epic masterpieces (Hamilton and Deaf Republic) and both stop momentarily for tenderness. I was also thinking about Kim Addonizio’s First Kiss.
Despite the thing I thought I was writing, little astronaut wanted to dwell in this space.
J. Hope Stein
November 2, 2018
I talk a bit about little astronaut and other intimacies on Brian Koppleman’s podcast The Moment with Mike Birbiglia.
Reading with Mike at Paul Muldoon’s Picnic at the Irish Art Center in NYC November 12th
Will be reading a couple poems at Berl’s in Brooklyn with Derrick Brown on December 13th.