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Jenne’ R. Andrews, 2016

Bio

Jenne’ R. Andrews is an American lyric poet; her poetry is noted for its rich musicality,   brilliance and luminosity of imagery, and unabashed emotional risks. Autumn House founder Michael Simms considers her work significant for the strength of its voice and mastery of craft.

The poet’s work has appeared in literary journals since ’69; to date she has had five collections published. Early mentors include Robert Bly, Canadian poet Tom Wayman, former Colorado Poet Laureate Mary Crow, master poet Bill Tremblay, Pulitzer Prize winner Maxine Kumin, memoirist Patricia Hampl, and other luminaries of her generation.

Andrews’ early collections of poetry include In Pursuit of the Family, edited and published by Robert Bly and the Minnesota Writers’ Publishing House and Reunion, Lynx House Press, Christopher Howell, Publisher. Also in the seventies, before ever completing a B.A.,  she was four-year, full-time Poet in Residence to the St. Paul Schools, and won both a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature and a Minnesota State Arts Board grant.

An expanded chapbook from Finishing Line Press, Blackbirds Dance in the Empire of Love, appeared in 2013, receiving high praise by her contemporaries and a lauding letter from Mr. Bly.   Copies of this book are available from Finishing Line; signed copies are available from the poet via jenneandrews2010@gmail.com.

Forthcoming Publication as of February 2017

Sometime in 2017 a second Finishing Line collection, Bocca, Voce, Delirio – Mouth, Voice, Delirium– Poems of Italia and Amore, , will launch with a true bonus; an e-book translation of the work  in Italian by Professor Lorenzo Luciani, New York State University, and the great Tuscan poet Rosalba DiVona.  Visit the collection’s online home: Bocca, Voce, Delirio, Poems of Italia and Amore.  

In 2018 or 2019, of especial interest and great meaning to the poet,  her  second book length collection of poetry, And Now, the Road, will be published by the preeminent  international house Salmon Poetry Ltd, Knockeven, the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland, Jessie Lendennie, Editor and Publisher.   The collection was also a finalist for the 2014 Autumn House Poetry Prize.  Salmon recently issued a thirty-fifth anniversary anthology received favorably throughout the UK, the US and Canada. 

Roots, Travel and Passions

Andrews’ poetry is imbued with a strong sense of place, including her native New Mexico, Colorado and Minnesota.

In 1974, invited by NPR’s Caroline Marshall, the poet traveled to Italy, ultimately taking a train alone down the coast to Reggio Calabria to rendezvous with a Calabrese she met in Verona.  She became fluent in Italian, and has a great affinity for southern Italy and Sicily. In addition to her forthcoming collection of “Italiana,” she has self-published the memoir Nightfall in Verona to its own blog online.

Returning to Colorado from Minnesota in 1978, the poet completed her bachelor’s degree and went on to take both M.A. and MFA degrees at Colorado State University.  She has taught composition, literature and creative writing at CSU and The University of Colorado.

After twenty years of raising Golden Retrievers in Colorado, continuing to write on the fly but during an intentional break from US Arts and Letters, the poet lost most of her mobility in a fall from a horse in 2007.  She has since devoted herself to a full time writing life, becoming a proficient political blogger,  and posting reviews of new collections of poetry to this blog.

Andrews’ passions include loving and breeding English Cream Golden Retrievers, creating exquisite collectible baby dolls, civil rights advocacy and lately, blogging about politics in the regressive wormhole of the Trump presidency.  She lives with her husband, fiction writer Jack Brooks, and dogs Angelo, Paris, Malibu and Scherzo on six acres on the county line in northern Colorado.

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This blog has been a work in progress since early 2010. Nearly 130,000 overall views and counting. Here is a wonderful compliment from a friend and blog follower: “Your creative gifts, your activism, and your sharp intellect make this world a better, more transparent, more honest, beautiful place.”

You can read much more about me  here. Contact me at jenneandrews2010@gmail.com; I am on Facebook at Jenne R Andrews, and Twitter as jenandrewspoet.

Please do not share any of the poetry and nonfiction on this blog in whole or in part without crediting Jenne’ R. Andrews as author and linking back to this blog–you can also share a post on Facebook or follow the blog via widgets on the right sidebar–thanks.

Requiem for a Book of Poems, and Why I’ve Been Thinking About Suicide

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I wonder how many of us, in these very dark times, have felt the toxicity of the oxymoronic Trump presidency creep into our lives, spread like clotting blood over the floor of the psyche, sneak in at night clad in black and cut us open and harvest our elan vital and our capacity for hope?

Personally, I am tired.  I am tired of life being really, really hard, of bad things happening to me and the people I love.  It is grueling to go about daily life when there is a Putin lackey pretending to run the government, a sick and slovenly Beluga of a man who it is easy to picture getting a golden shower from Russian whores while sleeping in the bed the Obamas once had at the Moscow Ritz Carlton. (cf Steele Dossier)

I am tired of wanting to buy a gun and get myself to Washington and position myself in the best place to take the shot– perhaps when he is enroute to Marine I to be ferried to Airforce One.

The change in me is not a change I am comfortable with; it is a deepening of the darkness I believed I had conquered in picking my work back up after years of estrangement from my literary self, having minor successes, things to look forward to.

The darkness deepens too because no relationship is easy and ours is sometimes horrible, an embittered clash of wills and throwing up of the past into each others faces, deep and vicious desires to lash out at each other when your marriage should be your harbor, where you know where you are standing, and are sure of each other.

But then, much of life seems to be about falling down. Ten years ago I fell from a standing horse and my right leg fractured; as it tried to heal it shortened by three inches.  I had seen it going out of alignment on the x-rays and when I pointed it out to my surgeon he shrugged his shoulders.  Then he said I could get a second opinion, but not telling me for what, or why.

I had been rehabbing in a nursing home in which I had close relationships with my comrades in wheelchairs, and adversarial relationships with a controlling gaggle of meth heads who tried to push me around.

It was in the nursing home, post-op, that I was introduced to my dark lover Percocet.  The nurse said–although I knew it was bullshit–that if I took it for pain and not to get high or blot out the hell playing itself out in every room of that facility, I wouldn’t get hooked.

I discovered that one double duty Perk and the Bach B Minor Mass thru my earphones, everyone down at early dinner, took me out and away from that reality, that cloying sadness of weeping people at the end of the line, who knew exactly where they were and why.  At the time I still had some of my faith left, the high church Anglicanism that gave me comfort, a brass crucifix I had tacked to the wall near my bed.  The Angus Dei lifted me up, over sunny fields, God’s hand in mine.  The big shots in the facility got down to their right size and for a time, they lost their power.

I would sit on waterproof bed pads and take a bath with a few plastic bottles of warm water and a small piece of soap, and anoint my body, putting on clean and tattered clothes that worked for having to wear a long brace.

On the day that I was threatened with being hospitalized by the administrator for a few things she thought I did that I never got to explain to her, I called a cab and came “home” to the place that had deteriorated into its own hell–filled with dust, where my husband was coming unglued.  We talked and fought, and fought and talked, not intimate at that time, and I moved into an apartment in East Old Town where I had a window looking out on the street and could feel the hum of life around me.  I burrowed into my creative work and went to pain management and made a truce with the drugs because I thought I needed them.

I once heard a food addict say that food was her guaranteed companion.  Friends who have not taken narcotics, a piece of chocolate cake doesn’t hold a candle to the glow, the warm honey over the mind of the drug legitimized by the doctors.  I am horrified by the stories I hear of heroin-laced fentanyl, the OD stats.  I don’t want to end up an OD stat; I want to be and be remembered as a poet and a good person.

But today is a dark, unholy day.  The story in the Washington Post of what Obama tried to do when he got the intel on the Russians and that Trump is deteriorating over the whole thing, trying not to fire Mueller when he knows that Mueller will uncover far more than that he whored around in a hotel in Moscow, just broke.

Two days ago, the galleys for my newest collection, Bocca, Voce, Delirio; Mouth, Voice Delirium, poems of Italy and Amore, were e-mailed to me by the bipolar, frenzied editor of the press.  In a letter lending new meaning to “crazy” I was instructed to print out and mark up the galleys especially pointing out in red in where their software was running awry and inserting extra spaces or no spaces at all.  There were about thirty additional instructions.

I have been working on this book, on pulling it along despite a falling out with the translators who became infuriated when I tried to amend several errors they made that distorted my meaning.  I designed the cover from a travel poster I brought home from Italy that was in the public domain, teaching myself MS Office Paint.

Meanwhile, one of our three “English Cream” Golden Retrievers went into labor and as happened several years ago, she didn’t progress. Unbelievably, we faced yet another c-section although we had just paid off the first one, last year,  out of my beautiful bitch who had melanoma during the pregnancy, so that we lost her.

I don’t take percocet anymore.  I take hydrocodone for the pain in my legs, the spasms in my back, and above all, the ache in my heart for everyone and everything.  The drugs stripped the enamel from my upper teeth so that I have falsies now; your gums shrink, so you have to get the dentures worked on and lined, and I keep mine in by sheer force of will.

There was a time when I went to Alcoholics Anonymous and obeyed all of the commands on the wall and that poured from people’s mouths.  I know now that I went because I was lonely, and hated myself, like many women alcoholic/addicts do.  I couldn’t get past the patriarchal crap, the powerlessness crap–as a woman I needed to be empowered, not insulted into submission to the patriarchal higher power one finds in AA.

And of course, there has been the drug factor.  I have not set foot in a meeting for nine years.  Nor, have I had a drink–unless you count tossing back three HC’s with a glass of fake champagne to get a bit of a buzz, drinking.

As a writer, I’ve been at the top of my game.  I am a regular contributor to Vox Populi and my manuscript And Now, the Road, was accepted by Salmon Poetry, an International press in West Ireland.

As we have begun to get a routine with our puppies, and I maintain that website and try to master a new used camera, and as we together stay up all night for a diarrhea crisis, I plug myself with suppositories to deal with what the drugs I take do to my bowels: they stop them from working.

Addicts are good at hiding the truth from themselves.  I hate labels but many things addicts say ring true to me.  At the moment, I am simply trying not to hate myself or hurt myself, and keep living, working with my doc on a planned withdrawal.

At 68, how many days are left?  How many springs?  How many lovemakings when you don’t come and have to forgive yourself, because you’re both so tired.  h ow many dark thoughts of doing in the president before he does anymore damage.

The puppies are beautiful; we’ve taken two deposits.  Perhaps we’ll get more, if i an make myself learn the new used camera.

I’m not a lost cause–maybe I’ll pull out of my malaise and swallow my pride, and return “to the rooms” at some point.

But the sadness today–it billows like a sail–for me, my aging lover, my new mother whose rapacious little whelps won’t leave her alone.  With trepidation last night we gave them a tiny, tiny bit of wormer from a h orse syringe, because we are poor.  I washed it down them with Pedialyte, praying.

How many times, over the years, have I tried to help something, and ended up killing it? Perhaps this is what weighs on me and makes me feel that I am under no contract to stay alive if life becomes intolerable.

I feel so badly about what I did–writing to the editor of the press and carving her a new asshole.  Laying into them all for being so dysfunctional and terrifyingly chaotic.

The publisher asked me not to abuse her staff.  I told her that her staff was abusing writers, making unfair and intolerable demands upon them,,  that I was done, to refund the copies of my own book I had bought to insure something like a press run.

Sometime, I’ll be able to give it a home–perhaps on its own blog.  Perhaps in self-published book with the poems I had to leave out of it due to length, back in.

I want someone to tell me why life is so fucking hard.  To tell me why we can’t dislodge the fruitloop in the White House, just take him out.  I understand his fear of being found out.

One truth about me is that I have never wanted to be sober-sober, not if it meant being a little pawn of an ephemeral higher power, of surrendering my personal power.  That is what women do.  We take care of each and every thing on the face of the earth that comes into our sphere except ourselves.  Some lonely man crooks his finger at us and we come running like mares in heat; we go on duty to low-bottom people who don’t deserve us and who have given up on themselves.

Donald Trump and I share the same problem, you see.  We both  got ourselves here.  Our choices, our refusals, our denial, our ambition, our bigshotism, got us here.

But Donald, can’t you see: what sets you free, at least for a while, is to tell the truth.