Jane McPhetres Johnson Publishes Maven Reaches Mars

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

Big Bear Books Opens in Easthampton, MA

Big Bear Books has just opened in the Keystone Building in Easthampton, MA, 122 Pleasant Street #132. Check out the website:

http://www.bigbearboksandcafe.com

Watch the website for events listings.

Hours are:

Tuesday – Saturday 8:30-4:30, Sunday 9-3.

This beautiful new store features a coffee bar, where up to 10 people can be seated at a time. Come in and relax, grab a coffee, and read a good book.

Big Bear will also take your book orders at:

413-320-8946 or veronica@bigbearbooksandcafe.com

You can also arrange to donate your books here. Stop by and take a look.

“…put your pen to paper and use it to release the animal that hides in the shadow of your hand.” – Pat Schneider from “Sometimes Writing”

What writing releases for me is multifaceted.  It gives me permission and justification for my sorrow, frustration, anger.  I can put it onto the page, and it may stay there, in my ongoing journal, but even if I am the only one to see it, it’s still a release.

It’s a spiritual path, practiced through writing.  I’m not talking about God necessarily.  I’m a recovering Catholic who is currently agnostic, letting in the possibility, but not really knowing.

Creativity is a natural process and blocks to it are unnatural.  Writing unblocks those pathways and gives us access to our true selves.

I took a spiritual journey in writing my latest book of poems, “Touch My Head Softly.”

I released my pain and frustration about having a partner who was stricken by Alzheimer’s Disease and eventually died, leaving me devastated.  Releasing those feelings in the vessels of those poems has been healing for me.

“Touch My Head Softly” is in pre sales at Finishing Line Press:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

it can also be gotten by clicking on the book cover on this page.

lves.

Can a Book Make a Difference?

“Act as if what you do makes a difference, it does.” William James

Can a book make a difference?  We are told our actions make a difference, but can a book, with diminishing print sales, lack of readership, and confusion about meaning, make a difference. This topic has been on my mind ever since I decided to donate part of the proceeds of my book of poetry about my partner who died of Alzheimer’s to the Alzheimer’s Association.  

When I approached my publisher about it, she didn’t respond.  When I approached the Alzheimer’s Association, they had never heard of such a thing and thanked me for the donation. When I told my friends, they asked if I thought I would sell enough copies to even form a decent donation.  

So why do it?  Some five million people are living with Alzheimer’s, and the number is growing.  I never had it, but the disease killed my partner and wrecked my life ten years ago.  It’s strange to write, publish and then read about this experience.  I thought if I contributed something to the research, it might ameliorate this whole process.

I also found it hard to talk to people about the donation, because they may see it as some strange hero thing. On the other hand, it can also be viewed as self-serving as people may buy the book because part of the proceeds will go to the Alzheimer’s Association, but as Adele, when she was asked if she was nervous hosting Saturday Night Live, recently said, “But if there was ever a time for any of us to jump head first into the deep end with our eyes closed and hope for the best it’s 2020 right?”

My book, Touch My Head Softly, has two weeks left in pre-sales, that time when my royalty and print run will be determined.  If you buy a copy, you will be getting a good collection of poetry and contributing to the Alzheimer’s Association:https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

My book is also on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860

I’ll be continuing to post announcements on Tuesdays and blog on Thursdays.

Amherst Books Reopens

There’s nothing like your local book store for a writer. Here you find worthy books, interesting readings and events, and a place to sell your books.

Amherst Books is located at 8 Main Street in Amherst, MA. New Hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm. You can order books online at books@amherstbooks.com) or by telephone (413-256-1547, 

They believe, and so do I, that books and bookstores are essential, especially in times of crisis. Support them or your local bookstore.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” 
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

I don’t know how you deal with self-doubt and self-criticism, but I know that loving life helps.

In the midst of a pandemic, I know this is hard.  But I have been trying to come  up every day with something to be grateful for.  I live in Western Massachusetts, which has some of the loveliest landscapes and lakes on the earth.  I canoe with my partner often.  I find focusing on nature is a great antidote.  I have a porch that looks out on a beautiful meadow and even while I’m sitting in my study writing, I’ll go out to the porch and look at a tree or plant or flower.

My latest collection of poetry is coming out soon. Check it out:

Touch My Head Softly by Eileen Kennedy – Finishing Line Press

Do You Use Your Dreams in Your Writing?

In the writing process, the more the story cooks, the better. The brain works for you even when you are at rest. I find dreams particularly useful. I myself think a great deal before I go to sleep and the details sometimes unfold in the dream.” —Doris Lessing

I find since the pandemic, I have been dreaming a lot. I’ve been trying to use my dreams to generate new writing. I took a workshop about writing from dreams and it was really interesting,

I think the trick is to tap into that dream state without necessarily writing the dream literally. I may do a series of “dream” poems.

I am doing a zoom reading for the Straw Dog Writers Guild on Tuesday, October 6 at 7 pm as their featured reader. If you’d like to view, email wno@strawdogwriters.org for a link.

Is Less Better Than More?

Is Less Better Than More?

We admire a blogger who is prolific and relevant, but sometimes we just want to communicate a small snippet of information on our blog. We want to create quality on our blogs as we write, but is it worth the time writing it that could go into a poem or a novel?

What about headlines or proper formatting?  It seems like a lot of trouble for just another blog.

And how many people are actually reading the blog to the end or just passing through to the next blog post?  And do we want all those people reading your blog, or do we want serious literary people following us?

I’m in the process of having a book published, and there is a lot of work surrounding the book. I also know that consistency is important in a blog, so I’m trying to blog once a week, on Thursdays, with announcements, as they arise, on Tuesdays.

I’m going to be featured reader for the Straw Dog Writers Guild on Tuesday, October 6 at 7 pm.

If you’d like to hear me read from my new book of  poetry,  Touch My Head Softly, about my ex who died of Alzheimer’s, send a request for a link to: wno@strawdogwritersguild.org.

Straw Dog Writers Night Out October 6

Straw Dog Writers Night Out October 6

Straw Dog Writers Guild

Writers Night In – Featured Reader Eileen Kennedy

is featuring Eileen P. Kennedy, author of the upcoming book of poetry from Finishing Line Press:

Touch My Head Softly

On October 6 at 7 pm EST,

The poems sensitively portrays a man living with Alzheimer’s Disease and his partner’s experiences. To join the viewing, email

wno@strawdogwriters.org to receive the Zoom link to the event.

Reading September 3 at 6:30 pm

This reading is Arts Night Out for the Emily Dickinson Museum, September 3 at 6:30 pm. I will read with two other excellent writers, Cheryl J. Fish and Kathryn Holzman.  I think I’m up third.

 

The Facebook event is here:

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/309599143564557?acontext=%7B%22action_history%22%3A[%7B%22surface%22%3A%22page%22%2C%22mechanism%22%3A%22page_admin_bar%22%2C%22extra_data%22%3A%22%7B%5C%22page_id%5C%22%3A131680596860548%7D%22%7D%2C%7B%22surface%22%3A%22events_admin_tool%22%2C%22mechanism%22%3A%22events_admin_tool%22%2C%22extra_data%22%3A%22[]%22%7D]%2C%22has_source%22%3Atrue%7D

 

 

Here’s the link to my new book, Touch My Head Softly

red framed eyeglasses on newspapers

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

:

 

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/