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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson

Steam Ticket, Spring 2024, includes two of my poems, one brand new, one revised.

The beautiful new issue of Steam Ticket, A Third Coast Review, Vol. 27, Spring 2024, includes my poems “Homeless Stones,” and “Bread Poem.” It is the literary magazine of the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse.

I wrote “Homeless Stones” this past February while involved in a poetry workshop lead by Gary Copeland Lily. Gary was a perfect leader, sensitive and full of mind-opening examples of ideal poems and poets. This is one of the most powerful writing workshops I have ever been part of. The seven other poets were extremely supportive, helpful and above of, inspiring. Several of them were focused on writing social consciousness poems. I tend to stay away from politics, but felt called to try to write about something I felt strongly about. The topic I chose was homelessness and the plight of the unhomed. Just as I was searching for an image or story to be a springboard, I heard a report on NPR about an area in Olympia/Lacey where we used to live with a different approach to preventing a homeless encampment. The tent city had appeared near a busy on/off ramp. Law enforcement regularly cleared the area out, but homeless people quickly returned. Finally the state paid thousands of dollars to place huge boulders on the acre so there would be no room for homeless people to settle there. I found the amount of money spent – with no money spent on re-homing – appalling. By describing the situation in detail various points of view, I examined it for myself and also, hopefully, opened the eyes of readers to all that is involved on both sides of the injustice.

I wrote the “Bread Poem” at a time when we were trying an extreme keto diet and all bread products were avoided. During that difficult period I came to understand how essential, tasty and comforting breads of all kinds can be. We are no longer keto. The poem is meant to be both humorous and serious. What we put into our bodies is vitally important. When I first created this piece about 3 years ago, I submitted it a few times with no success, then set it aside. By applying some the principles Gary taught us, I eliminated three lines, which tightened up the poem wonderfully. I submitted it once – again – and here it is!

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