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Bio- Short Version
Jenne’ Rodey Andrews is a lyric poet with roots in the American West and Southwest, self-publishing a pamphlet of poetry at 16, professionally publishing her first poem in The Colorado Review in 1969 under the guest editorship of Canadian force of nature the poet Thomas Ethan Wayman, Built to Take It, Lynx House Press 2015. Her current life and work are informed by the fact that she is at 69, the matriarch of a nexus of pioneer families who settled in territorial Albuquerque after the Civil War. She bears as her first name the surname name of her great-grandmother Naomi Ruth Jenne, descendent of one John Jenne, a Dutch brewer who sailed to Plymouth Rock aboard the Little Anne, and the middle name of her great-grandfather, Bernard Shandon Rodey, an influential visionary who emigrated from County Mayo, Ireland to New Mexico Territory in the final years of the nineteenth century whose achievements include founding the University of New Mexico.
The poet lived in Albuquerque until she was twelve, notably in a picturesque post-war adobe, cloistered for long hours with her mother, brilliant and self-destructive New Mexico artist & playwrite Helen Stamm Andrews nee Helen Jenne’ Stamm, relying on her lively imagination & the comforting lyrics of the poetry in A Child’s Garden of Verse, Robert Louis Stevenson, to populate a rich inner life. She counts among her encouragers, her father, mother, brother and indomitable aunt Winifred Stamm Reiter, journalist and anthropologist who was all things to a 30’s magazine called Digs about the Anasazi excavations at Chaco Canyon, NM. With others the poet believes that American anthropologists have been unfairly discredited by tribes who woke up to their cultural pasts beginning in the 70’s, demanding return of their artifacts that had been lovingly and carefully preserved by those highly trained graduate students who under the direction of such luminaries as Clyde Kluckhohn, excavated the entire tribal ruin and who revered them.
About the Work
Andrews’ poetry, copiously published in the 70’s and 80’s, with a reappearance in signature journals in the ‘tweens of the 2000’s, is noted for its indelible lyricism, faceted brilliance of language and imagery, and thematically speaking, an impassioned vision for both the richly storied identity born of her southwestern pioneer roots and on the other, transfiguration through a “melding” with the Other and identification with the “passionate transitory” of the natural world. Her influences include the American Confessional School, the work of Theodore Roethke, Tess Gallagher, D.H. Lawrence, William Butler Yeats, Walt Whitman and the finally honed early poems of Adrienne Rich.
Her published works include five collections, the first, In Pursuit of the Family a modest volume published by her mentor Robert Bly and the Minnesota Writers Publishing House. Reunion, Lynx House Press, Christopher Howell, Editor, appeared in 1983. Her most recent collection is Blackbirds Dance in the Empire of Love, an expanded chapbook issued by Finishing Line Press with commentary by literary luminaries Dawn Potter, Jim Moore, and Patricia Kirkpatrick, and cover art by the brilliant mixed media artist Jonathan Sokol. Copies of this collection may be ordered signed from the poet; see contact info in the sidebar.
On the boards: the dual-language collection Bocca, Voce, Delirio/Mouth, Voice, Delirium – Poems of Italia & Amore with consiglieri Prof. Enzo Castel di Lama and the brilliant Italian poetess R. Alba della Sora. See About the Blogger for more details.
Of especial interest and great meaning to the poet, in 2019, a book-length collection of poetry, The Dominion of the Afflicted, including many of the Vox Populi poems, will be published by the preeminent international house Salmon Poetry Ltd, Knockeven, the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland, Jessie Lendennie, Editor and Publisher.
Andrews earned three degrees at Colorado State University, culminating in the Masters of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing/Poetry, the equivalent of the Ph.D.; she is a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts in Literature. Autumn House Press founder Michael Simms considers Andrews’ work significant for the strength of its voice and mastery of craft. Indeed, recent kudos include becoming a finalist in the 2014 Autumn House Poetry Prize Contest and to have circa twenty poems appear in Vox Populi, Professor Simm’s content-rich visionary online ‘zine of poetry and politics betweem 2016-17. These may be accessed via typing her name into the Vox search box. A sample poem follows.
The Bird of Dust
When the small boy came to me
with a handful of barn swallows,
I said, I cannot reattach their nests;
I am not a mother bird.
I do not have the breast for it, the fallen
robins of the night;
you who swoop with your soft cries
of grief: I cannot mend your nests.
The mares trampled them into the dust,
and by morning no remnant chaff,
no tiny birds like a child’s amputated
fingers, white and cold.
But ma mere, mon semblable,
what of the breast you would not unbind
for me, caking at the long vowels
of my cry, when I swayed in the sling
of your arms, with my searing eyes
and working mouth?
It seems we fell away from one another.
Did you startle when I moved
at the sound of rain; did you startle away?
You laid me down in the ruthless dark
and sang lullabies to dawn’s
undemanding fleurs du printemps,
and when I called to you,
no one came.
You said I tore you asunder when
I swam into the world.
When you said this, I spun a husk
of tears, seaming it to the roof of night;
I conjured a barn swallow mother
feeding me from her mouth,
as a mother would, settling over me,
so that we lay heart to heart
as a mother should, even in a nest
hanging by a strand.
My imaginary mere calms the breeze,
and it rocks me in her absence;
The nest is secured to the beam.
I am safe in the pouch of the nest.
That I am her alpha and omega
toughens her small fluttering body;
she stays me, when I speak to her
You had said that I was too young to fly,
but I had somehow fractured my wings;
heavy feet had ground me to dust.
When I lay broken, mon semblable,
ma mere, you gave your battle cry, and flew
into the white eye of the mad moon.
from Blackbirds Dance in the Empire of Love, Finishing Line Press 2015.
The poet is an inveterate blogger and civil rights advocate, founding a disability advocacy organization in the early 2000’s and blogging civil rights and politics at this web address. She lives with her companion fiction-writer Jack Brooks and seven cream-coated English Golden Retrievers in the Poudre River valley in northern Colorado. contact info in sidebar.
.For a closer look at the poet’s remarkable oeuvre & the influence of place and family upon her work, please migrate to About the Blogger. Scroll down to current post.