MAVEN REACHES MARS: Home Poems and Space Probes in Four Fascicles looks
around at a world in crisis and asks, “Where am I?” and “How did I get here?” and by
the way, “Who am I?” The answers come wryly, ruefully, sometimes playfully, in
poems prompted by the day’s news, by fading family photos, by existential fears and
poignant twin grandchildren.
Johnson’s poetry reaches out in a conversational style and, like Robert Frost and
Emily Dickinson, she writes the reader into the poem. These were the poets her
grandmother and mother quoted so often in Kansas and Colorado, decades before
Jane moved to Amherst, where Frost and Dickinson are part of the local landscape.
But Johnson’s background is beyond fandom. Her early leadings coalesced in the
MFA writing program at Goddard College, where she learned from such mentors as
Stephen Dobyns, Thomas Lux, Louise Gluck, Robert Hass, and Donald Hall.
Jane McPhetres Johnson’s first published book is a life’s work—more than 90 poems
all in one place, painstakingly edited and carefully curated over a 50-year pursuit
that has largely been a solo flight. Now, with intricate drawings by Portuguese artist Maria Greene, Johnson’s compelling personal and political opus arrives.
Maven is available from Collective Copies/Levellers Press (www.levellerspress.com) in either Amherst or Florence, MA (curbside or mail order) and at Broadside Books (www.broadsidebooks.com) in Northampton, MA and Amherst Books (www.amherstbooks.com) in Amherst, MA