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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson




New Poem in ‘Pensive’

My poem “Snowy Owl” appears in issue 4 of Pensive: A Global Journal of Spirituality & the Arts published by Northeastern University. You can read all the beautiful work by going to http://pensivejournal.com. So many things that happened to me during my home health and hospice work have stayed in my mind and heart. I find that writing about them is another form of service. This wonderful journal hosted a reading with both in-person and Zoom participants. I was so excited to share my poem with this group. All the poems seemed both heart breaking and healing. Thank you, Pensive editors and staff – and fellow contributors!




Wound Nurse poem in HEAL

My poem “Wound Nurse” is now up in the online version of HEAL: Humanism Evolving through Arts and Literature, the literary journal of the College of Medicine at Florida State University. There is also a print version. The writing here is of course wonderful. The art is absolutely stunning. There is a beautiful goddess that accompanies my poem. Much of my work in Home Health nursing involved wound care. The skin, our outermost defense, is strong but also very vulnerable, especially as we age. This poem describes the work generally and also a particular patient. The editor generously invites the public to experience this outstanding journal by clicking on: https://public.med.fsu.edu/images/newsletters/Heal/22_vol12/images/HEALVol12.pdf




Stalker Poem in Lily Review

My Poem “To the Stalker Who Said He Wanted to Draw My Hair” is included in the Lily Poetry Review’s Winter 2022 edition. This is a very personal poem and includes mention of terrifying incidents that happened to my grandmother and my mother. This happened to me many years ago but I still remember it vividly – this man approaching me in a store when I was a teenager and telling me my hair was beautiful and that he was an artist and wanted to draw it. He wanted me to get in his car. I recall my confusion. I knew it would be wrong for me to trust him, but… Then a vivid picture of the aftermath of what happened to my mother one summer afternoon when I was 11 flooded my mind. I am so grateful to Eileen Cleary and the other editors and readers of this outstanding journal for including my work. Reading over the other poems here makes me feel more and more honored that my words are alive beside them. Editing and publishing a literary magazine these days takes a huge amount to time and funding. I so appreciate those who dedicate themselves to this invaluable enterprise.




“Crow Hold” in The Comstock Review

My poem about crows’ nests just appeared in the Fall/Winter 2021 (35th) Edition of The Comstock Review. “Crow Hold” was inspired by my friend Hilary who has been a wild bird rehabilitator for 30+ years. Many of the birds she has saved have been crows and she has several resident fellows who keep her and her husband and their cats amused every day. When I mentioned once the crows’ nests were such messy looking things in trees, she explained to me that crows are not born knowing how to grip and that the nests are constructed to teach this necessary skill. I was so impressed, I wrote the poem about it:

Crow Hold

Leaflessness reveals the mess

of a crows’ nest. Random twig

trash as though the dark goddess

forgot how to weave or kept

this secret from the lowly crow.

My friend who has tended injured

Corvids, studied their wings

and spindles, their eye shine,

tells me there are lessons

in the stash. Crows are not born

knowing how to grip. Parents

teach their young the opposable

talon, baton by baton, tightrope

by guidewire, limb and limber.

The fledglings learn their manners

on tines and knives. Become almost

human enough for violin. Not ours

to judge the shack at the edge

of the river, the canted tent

from which notes spill

like crooked silver.




Sonnet in The Heartland Review

This past year I have been reading and experimenting with various kinds of sonnets. The Modern Sonnet is complex and intriguing. Of those I have produced, this is the first one I have had published. It appeared recently in the Fall 2021 Issue of The Heartland Review. My sonnet is titled “Seeing Soul Is Not the Same as Seeing Ghosts.” It does have 14 lines – which seems to be the most consistently employed sonnet trait, beyond rhyme scheme and syllabic line. I use some off-rhyme which I enjoy in poetry. Thank you to Mick Kennedy, Editor, and the editorial assistants of this excellent publication.




Poets Respond to Art at Northwind Gallery’s Ekphrastic Event

Our Northwind Art Gallery in Port Townsend hosts a cool event every August. Poets are invited into the gallery to choose a piece of art and write about it. Participating poets then get to share their verse in front of the painting or sculpture during a special reading. Due to Covid, this year the poems are read by their authors online on the Northwind YouTube page.

I am so excited to be part of this event! My poem is entitled “Pandora 2021” and is in response to Margaret Woodcock’s collage, “Remains of Pandora’s Box.” You can experience it at:




Hospice Poem in The Healing Muse

My poem, “The Last Piece,” is in Volume 21, Number 1 – Fall 2021 of The Healing Muse, the literary journal of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities associated with SUNY Upstate Medical University. This is a very real poem derived from my experience as a Hospice RN. When I visited homes of the dying I often found jigsaw puzzles! They gave the carers, visitors and even the patient, something specific to do.

I specifically remember Karl’s home in a remote wooded area. His family got him the most beautiful puzzles mostly on animal themes since Karl loved all creatures. I mentioned to him one day that I saw puzzles in other homes also. He came up with the idea of trading puzzles and gave me a boxload of jigsaws he and his family had previously enjoyed putting together. He told me to give them away to other patients and families and if they wanted to donate some in return, that was fine.

My Hospice families loved Karl’s idea and I carried puzzles around in the back of my car for those who wanted to try one or trade.

Karl’s favorite was the puzzle of a beautiful wolf. Karl’s daughter kept this one and after his passing glued it to a board and framed it.

I was continually amazed by the generosity and kindness and ingenuity of those I served during my Hospice years.




Grandmothering Anthology

I was surprised and thrilled to receive my copy of Grandmothers & Grandmothering, Creative and Critical Contemplations in Honour of our Women Elders in the mail yesterday. It is published by Demeter, a feminist press in Ontario. I have my own chapter called My Esther: Darkness and the Shine and my poems are mostly about my grandmother who was indeed a complex person. These poems were accepted in 2017 and I had wondered what had become of the publication. Then suddenly it is here. Most of the articles are of a scholarly nature, exploring through a multicultural lens, all sorts of female lineage relationships. Besides the poems about Esther, I also have 2 about myself as a grandmother, one of my most cherished roles in this life.