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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson




Snapdragon Journal of Art and Healing publishes “Cumulus”

“Snapdragon” has published my poem, “Cumulus,” in their online summer 2024 issue about climate change. You can read all the powerful work by going to Http://snapdragonjournal.com. I don’t write about issues of importance as often as I should. This spring I have been focusing on social concerns more seriously and have crafted several poems I am proud of including this one. I am thankful to the editors of Snapdragon for bringing the needs of our beautiful world forward for both writers and readers to take to heart.


When I first learned clouds move,

I was three years old. Lesson

in the terror of change. The villain

was wind who pushed and shredded,

the same ghost who chafed my skin.

Over the years I developed affection

for breezes, the way all love involves

a tinge of fear. The way I forgave

my own visible breath, leaving.

Throughout my life, the winds have risen

until now I see the atmosphere unraveling,

clouds and leaves and dust all one earth-shift.

Some say the sunsets are more brilliant

these days. I see them with the same

wariness I glimpse the false rainbow

in an oil slick, poison mistaken

for pearl. Clouds outside my window

do not hold the same rain I knew

as a child. Less river, more smoke. Vapor

I imagined into animals now their slow

erasure. Unless we envision a fresh wind.

Until we change the shape of our fear.




“Omens and Totems” in Spring 2024 Online Issue of Slant

My poem, “Omens and Totems,” is in the current (Spring 2024) online issue of Slant. You can read the whole beautiful journal at: www.uca.edu/sll/slant/. This poem originated in a dream. Dreams are fertile fields for inspiration. I keep a notebook in the bathroom so if I see a powerful image or hear a word while I am sleeping, I can write it down immediately when I awake without disturbing Jim! Here is my poem:

Omens and Totems

I have this nightmare

where I am asked by the storm

within the wind to name

the birds. Each of them.

And I am shamed by my meager

attempt at sparrow and

wren. There are too many

and in my sleep crows shift

into a handful of starling

shadow. It is as if a species

became each individual feature,

none of them true. Each

beloved relationship shattered

since my heart studied

the wrong wing.

My friend makes dream catchers

from chicken feathers. And twine

and seeds the colors of rain.

At night pilgrims fly through them.

I hang one from my head board

reach for my childhood robins.

Drift into the time when I was

so new to this world

I thought I was tasked

with giving the birds their names.




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!




“Beyond Darkness” in Cirque Spring 2024

My poem “Beyond Darkness” is included in Cirque #27 which just came out in May 2024. This poem is based on an experience I had walking just after sunset in Cape George where we live. At the entrance to our village is a fire station which is no long staffed regularly. It is the highest point since the village slopes down toward the sea. Darkness had fallen more quickly than I had expected and the shapes around me were dim and shadowy. Suddenly I saw a group of deer approaching. They didn’t seem aware of me and certainly didn’t seem to find that I was there. The whole scene was surreal. A fawn passed so close I could have reached out and touched her. I almost felt like we did touch in some way. The poem describes this experience. I wrote the poem to capture and preserve the moment and also to explore it and its implications for my life.




“Magnified” in Ars Poetica Galleries

My poem “Magnified” has been chosen by two artists as an inspiration for their creative expressions. The poem is displayed during the month of April along with the art it inspired in Rimbert Illustrations Gallery in Bremerton and Front Street Gallery in Poulsbo.

I will be reading my poem as the artist describes their creative process on Sunday, April 14 in Bremerton and Sunday April 21 in Poulsbo.

The competition is sponsored by a group called Ars Poetica in Kitsap county. By the first of the new year, poets are invited to submit 3 poems with a small fee. Artists are then able to select pieces that they believe will help them create new artwork. The results are displayed during National Poetry Month.

I just and absolutely love this concept. More frequently poets participate in Ekphrasis when they write in response to the work of art. It is very rewarding to have the process reversed and have artists respond to the written word. I am so excited to meet the artists that my poem inspired later this month. I know that one created a painting and the other a found item collage.




“Joseph” in the December 2023 Issue of Literary Mama

My poem, “Joseph,” is in the online issue of Literary Mama this December. You can find it at Http://literarymama.com. This is such a lovely journal, one of my favorites. The work captures such a range of parenting experiences as well relationships to parents past. This poem of mine describes a heart-breaking experience, but one that also includes a miracle of the kindness of strangers. I haven’t written about this very much before. One day when I was sitting at my writing/meditation table, it came through me. This version has been through some revision but not much. When we are ready to write about an experience, the words appear. Thank you, Muse! And I love you, tiny Joseph.




Blue Heron Review Nominates for Pushcart Prize

Blue Heron Review has nominated my poem, “The Library on Market Street,” for a Pushcart Prize. Many thanks to founding editor Cristina Norcross for selecting my poem.

I included the poem in the post in October when it appeared on the Blue Heron website. I am proud of this one since it speaks to the importance of libraries in our society today. The mission of the public library has changed over recent years but its qualities of inclusion, open access to materials and its role as a haven for those needing a place to feel safe and learn, grow and enjoy life is as relevant as ever. Thank you to all the brave librarians defending free speech.




Pushcart Nomination from MoonPath!

MoonPath press has nominated the poem “Phases of Mourning” from my book Hospice House for a Pushcart Prize. I have had poems nominated before, but it has been several years. This poem was one of the last ones to go into the book. I wrote it about my friend and neighbor Mardella who lost her beloved husband Bryan. When I walk to the mailboxes here in Cape George I pass her house. That day I saw her placing a geranium on her porch. It seemed a tribute to how we all have to go on after terrible loss. Thank you to Lana for this honor for me, Mardella and Bryan!