Jenne' Andrews is an American poet. She has three published chapbooks including the recent Blackbirds Dance in the Empire of Love, Finishing Line Press 2013.

A full-length collection, Reunion, Lynx House Press, was published in 1983; after a long hiatus to raise Golden Retrievers in Colorado, recent work has appeared in The Passionate Transitory, Belletrist Coterie, The Adirondack Review and Vox Populi, a journal of culture, politics and poetry published and edited by the august Michael Simms.

A bilingual collection of "Italiana," Bocca, Voce, Delirio, with translations by Lorenzo Luciani, will be released by Finishing Line at the end of 2016 and her latest collection, And Now, the Road, a finalist for the Autumn House prize in 2014, will be released by Salmon Poetry Ltd, Ireland, a highly regarded international house, Jessie Lendennie, Publisher, circa 2017.

Andrews holds the MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from Colorado State University, is a literary fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts, and was full-time Poet in Residence for the St. Paul Schools from '74-78. She lived in St. Paul from 1971-78 during the first wave of the Twin Cities literary renaissance, and spent the summer of 1973 in Reggio Calabria, Italy.

The poet lives in northern Colorado's Poudre River Valley with her husband, fiction writer Jack Brooks; the couple has recently imported two British Golden Retrievers and expects a litter in June-- see the Ardorgold website for details. Contact: jenneandrews2010@gmail.com .

Monday, November 1, 2010

To Love a Mockingbird

Hallelujah!  I'm decompressing after spending the whole fall working on a manuscript of poems.  I sent one version off at the end of September-- haven't heard-- and then I had an epiphany which prompted me to completely redo the book.  I wrapped all up yesterday around noon and had that glorious "Look What I Did" feeling when I hit "send" to a major poetry publication prize.

I've written many poems that draw on imagery from opera and other classical music, as well as having it in my mind and alluded to in several poems that my poetic soul identifies with the mocking bird-- that it is plain, yet with a spectacular imitative repertoire-- thirty musical patterns, in sequence,  from other birds in addition to its own song-- that it sings at night, especially when the moon is full (I have insomnia), and that it co-parents with its mate, generally mating for life-- I like these things about it-- and I no doubt would have mated for life and co-parented had I had the option..
. .
I had been in a quandary over the title of the mss and struggling to achieve some unity among the sections when several things happened at once to point me in a new direction;  one was the death of the great diva Joan Sutherland, an idol and indirect mentor of mine in terms of the fact that I am a closet coloratura soprano.

The other was that I discovered that Walt Whitman and I are kindred spirits; he loved bel canto operatic singing which was in an ascendancy and very popular on the East Coast when he was writing, he strove to duplicate singing and the lyric in his work, and, lo and behold,  he was inspired early on by the mourning of a bereft mocking bird..

If I had ever realized this, I had forgotten it; it had been years since I had read "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" which has a mocking bird holding forth in it, with numerous references to song and singing,  and not until I searched for titles incorporating "mocking bird" did I run across a reference to this magnificent poem. I found his poem so moving that I decided to use part of it as an epigraph, dusting off a draft I had written a few months back; it is now the title poem of my collection-- "A Mocking Bird Sings Bel Canto" (see below).

Yesterday the manuscript fell into place after all of my four-hours a day hard work; suddenly I saw how the relationships among the poems and the sections could work.  I told a friend that this book is my love letter to the world.  I am very aware that lyric poetry even in the open line is not in vogue in the literary establishment. But I wrote the book that was in me to write, and I hope that at some point it will fall on the right ears and eyes.

I have mentioned off and on at my main blog Loquaciously Yours that I have returned to serious writing-- most of each day-- after many years raising Golden Retrievers and being caught up in other things.  I had to give myself permission to start a blog that day last January.

Since that time I've written a number of essays/posts about all kinds of things, one memoir, a novel and now pulled together with new work and from my M.F.A. thesis, two collections of poetry.

I have felt the press of time; I turn 62 this week.  The past twenty years have flown by in the proverbial twinkling of an eye.  It turned out to be a good thing to write and put things away and then return to them much later, but I wouldn't want to sleep away the time I have left!  Please do visit me at Loquaciously Yours as well as stopping by this blog; my new "title poem" follows.

.                                                A Mocking Bird Sings Bel Canto

"Demon or bird! (said the boy's soul,)
Is it indeed toward your mate you sing? or is it really to me?
For I, that was a child, my tongue's use sleeping, now I have heard
Now in a moment I know what I am for, I awake,
And already a thousand singers, a thousand songs, clearer, louder
and more sorrowful than yours,
A thousand warbling echoes have started to life within me, never to die."
From "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman

You came to singing
As a child, voice made
Of light and air
caroling and plain
In the mirror
Little imitative bird
Velvet snare of impulse
Binding you to vision

Now, Puccini at twilight: 
two voices
Rising and falling 
in the depths of the Met’s 
red brocade mouth--Pinkerton 
and that princess
Gheorghiu, together
In the background the pyre
Of conquest-- 

Butterfly dies for love
Beautifully: at the apogee
The moon shatters 
in her throat

The critic next to you nods:
Please, tremulous diva
Die again—your hair a mane
Down your back, the knife
Glinting in your small 
ivory hand


You leave the opera 
Arms in your silk jacket swinging
Freely, clutch with its rhinestone
And the cheap single ticket
Drifts away into the river 
along the curb

You do not see
That the sidewalk 
is underwater, 
that lamps glow at the bottom
In a bistro you drink a glass
Of forgetfulness
The stranger next to you
Looks, looks away.

Back out to the street
You reorient yourself
By the few visible stars
Unbind your hair; you walk 

There is someone you know
Too well 
In the undulating windows


Placer y lagrimas, pleasure 
and tears
You retreat to your lair
Stripping yourself of that tasteful
Boutique suit, those low-heeled
Dancing shoes
And then some light rain
Within, a scrim
Of batik trees leaning 
out of the past--
Branches ghosts of loves
Only half-forgotten

Voice rising
With unfettered and unscored
Yearning that measure 

For measure
Cascades like jubilant water
Through the dark.


Maureen said...

So happy for you, Jenne, that all came together like this.

Your title poem may be the most lyrical you've written. It's stunning.

jen revved said...

thanks a bunch, Maureen- you're the only one who's seen it thus far and I thought it was good, but not sure...xxxxj

Jingle Poetry said...

This is beautiful,
I would love to hear the bird sing.
enterprising and entertaining piece.

Jingle Poetry said...

How are you, friend?

Glad to land on your exciting poetry land here.

Welcome linking in a poem to our potluck today, Thanks in advance!


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