Professor Jenne' Rodey Andrews, M.F.A., is a highly regarded American poet, critic and memoirist. Recent work has appeared in former Autumn House Publisher Michael Simms' Vox Populi (over fifteen poems) The Passionate Transitory, Belletrist Coterie, The Adirondack Review and elsewhere.

Andrews' current ms of poetry Beautiful Dust was a finalist for the 2014 Autumn House and she recently withdrew the work from Salmon Ltd, Ireland to protest unmoderated bashing of American writers by Irish writers on the press's social media pages.

Her most recent collection, Blackbirds Dance in the Empire of Love, lauded by Robert Bly and endorsed by poets Jim Moore, Dawn Potter and Patricia Kirkpatrick, appeared from Finishing Line Press 2013. A booklength collection Beautiful Dust was 2014 finalist for the Autumn House Press Poetry Prize and solicited by Salmon Press, Ireland. Turning on work set in the West and her native Southwest the collection is under submission to 2019 publication prizes.

Andrews is currently hard at work on two new memoirs: The Shame Garden: A Woman Writes of Isolation, Despair and Self-Redemption, which in intensely wrought and imagistic prose poetry chronicles the anatomy of shame; it is the poet's late-in-life tour d'force, sending the reader through Dante's circles of hell, the sewers of Paris ala Les Mis, mano a mano confrontations with the Alien mater familias, fusing literary and vintage cinematic works in an elliptical dance with human history and experience of being Other. The poet has no idea of what will become of this work but hopes it finds a home as memoir with a small press.

A four part interview with Andrews went live at poet Maureen Doallas's blog Writing without Paper in 2010.

Other collections include the full-length Reunion, Lynx House Press, The Dark Animal of Liberty, Leaping Mountain Press, and In Pursuit of the Family, edited and published by Robert Bly and the Minnesota Writers Publishing House.

Her work has been anthologized in Heartland II, Northern Illinois University Press, 25 Minnesota Vols. I and II, Wingbone: An Anthology of Colorado Poetry, Women Poets of the Twin Cities, Oil and Water and Other Things that Don't Mix, and elsewhere.

Essays have appeared in MPR's Magazine, The Colorado Review, The Twin Falls Times News, and miscellaneous journals.

IIt is Prof. Andrews' belief that one's collection of poetry must be judged on the quality of its craft, voice, and language, not its themes.

With Mr. Bly the memoirist Patricia Hampl wrote a forward to her first collection and is considered the "mother" of the modern American memoir although she arguably shares this title with Mary Karr for Karr's The Liar's Club. Andrews mentored Karr in Minneapolis when the former was circa 19.

Professor Andrews has had an illustrious teaching career at Colorado State University and the University of Colorado where she taught prelaw students in the making of argument and the issues-oriented seminar The American West. She was the highest rated instructor in the University Writing program during her tenure at Boulder.

Currently Professor Andrews writes daily at age 70, having been rendered housebound in 2007 in a fall from a horse, at home with her lover and companion of thirty years the fiction writer Jack Brooks, ten new poems a month, and is working on an additional memoir about her pioneer roots, "Territory Fever: The Story of an Albuquerque Family," posted as chapters are finished to Loquaciously Yours where the poet has produced over 450 essays in the past decade on a variety of topics as well as book reviews. Upcoming: a review of Ethna McKiernan's new Salmon Collection.

Ms. Andrews is also a Civil Rights Advocate advocating in 2019 for the civil rights of the poet Ping Wang who recently won the AWP Award for Memoir.

In 2015, after a long battle, Andrews extracted her MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from Colorado State University, begun and finished in the 80's, self-advocating under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In fact Andrews was instrumental in the Colorado Commission on Higher Education's approval of the MFA at CSU.

She is a literary fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Minnesota Arts Board Fellowship, was short-listed for a Bush Foundation Fellowship, 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, one of the first poets to inaugurate The Loft Literary Center, co-founding Women Poets of the Twin Cities which as noted boosted the careers of Mary Karr, Ethna McKiernan and others, and spent the summer of 1973 in Reggio Calabria, Italy which gave rise to the "voluptuous prose-poetry" memoir Nightfall in Verona posted in entirety here, designated by arts maven and former friend Caroline Marshall of NPR The Writer Reads as "fabulous."

Circa 2010 Andrews also founded a poetry group on She Writes which included Dawn Potter, Katha Pollock and other noteworthy writers, and supported the work of Meg Waite Clayton, fiction writer in addition to mentoring a number of other up and coming writers.

There is no way to estimate the influence on the lives and work of the some 12,000 students k-12 she met and encouraged in the seventies, but the poet James Tolan has attributed his career to her work as it was anthologized in Heartland II, Lucien Stryk, Editor. Professor Stryk read the title poem of In Pursuit of the Family on NPR.

As noted the poet lives in northern Colorado's Poudre River Valley with her husband, fiction writer Jack Brooks; the couple's daily life is centered around writing and enjoying their beautiful imported Golden Retrievers;-- see the Ardorgold website for details. Contact: jenneandrews2010@gmail.com.

Signed copies of the Blackbirds Dance collection, endorsed by James Moore, Patricia Kirkpatrick and Dawn Potter, are available from the poet. She posts new work below and is available for mentorship and virtual readings via Skype.

She is happy to critique ms. of poetry, fiction and memoir for a small fee.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Poem for One Stop Wednesday...

(update-- also posting for Magpie Tales...)

The Bird of Dust

When the small boy came to me
With a handful of fallen barn swallows
I said
I cannot reattach these 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 reattach your nests.

The mares trampled them
Into the dust
And by morning
No fallen nests, no small birds
Like 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 away when I moved
At the sound of rain
Did you startle away?

You laid me down
In the ruthless dark
And sang lullabyes
To dawn’s undemanding  
Fleurs du printemps
Les fleurs plus sont ouvertes
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 cocoon of tears
Seaming it to the roof of the night

I conjured a barn swallow mother
Feeding me from her own 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
Teaches me the solace of the wind
And it rocks me in her absence

The nest
Is attached to the beam.
I am safe
In the pouch of the nest.

That I am her alpha and omega
Toughens the sinew
Of her small fluttering body
And she stays me
When I speak to her of flying


You had said that I was too young
To fly
But I had somehow fractured my wings
Sharp 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.


To participate in the wonderful One Stop Poetry challenges, to learn and grow and write your heart out, click here.  (French refs: the flowers of spring, the quite open flowers)

Copyright Jenne’ R. Andrews 2011
All rights reserved


Reflections said...

Stark images tonal of sadness... Beautiful!

Alegria Imperial said...

I love how the images weave in and out of dark yet magical reality, how the voices swing from innocence to mastery, how her fractured young watches her fly into the "white eye of the mad moon"; and how the language moans and sobs in English and in French! Totally captivating, Jenne! Thanks!

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

Oh, Jenne, what a powerful and evocative poem. Each rereading (and there have been quite a few) brings out new meanings and nuances. The robins of the night, the trampling mares, the real, the remembered and the imaginary mere, startled away by the sound of the rain, the breast caking at the vowel of the babe's cry ... the imagery is stunning, all leading up to that howling ending ... the battle cry, the white eye of the mad moon. Almost more than I can bear this morning. Almost.

Brian Miller said...

this is a gorgeous write...wonderfulimagery that evoke feeling...the reactions changind from first stanza to last...very nice one shot.

Carl said...

This is a beautiful piece. I love the way the POV moves. Each reading does bring forth new feelings and that is powerful.

These lines had particular power for me:
"My imaginary mere
Teaches me the solace of the wind
And it rocks me in her absence"

This is great work.

Anonymous said...

I found your words "I am safe in the pouch of the nest" to be particularly reassuring. Beautiful poetry.


hedgewitch said...

Is it just me or are you echoing a bit on purpose some Baudelaire here; in particular the unique and killer lines ",ma mere, ma sembable" remind me of the famous "Hypocrite lecteur, — mon semblable, — mon frère!

Regardless, this is a gem of a poem on mothering, on trying to understand why it seems so hard for humans and so easy for birds and horses and other creatures to give in totality to their young the things that are needed rather than the things that are an empty gesture...as always, thought-provoking, profound and satisfying to read your work.

Maureen said...

You are on a roll, Jen! This has all your trademarks - lyricism, imagery, control of voice and more. So pleased to see the number of your followers increasing, too.

"... breast.../Caking at the long vowels of my cry": incredible.

Jenne' R. Andrews said...

Thanks so very much, each of you, for these wonderful comments-- this was a tough poem to write, a tough thing to confront-- but isn't that something we must do, even at deeply personal levels. HW-- in one of her poems, perhaps "Diving into the Wreck" AR echoes Baudelaire w/ "mon semblable mon soeur" or however you spell sister-- I had remembered Rich's appropriation--- good call! so amazing that now we can know how we're doing when we write; we feed each other with our work, clearly!

Claudia said...

oh wow - this was utterly beautiful - strong and passionate and this last stanza was just gorgeous!

Padmavani said...

what do I say that others haven't said already, except that I have bookmarked this poem and will come back to read it again and again.