"This refreshing memoir weaves poetry and prose into a tapestry depicting a childhood of wonder and joy bound to the days of "our long and lucky lives," as Janet McMillan Rives can write now. With chapters moving around in time and place, with lines of poetry that sharpen the focus, she takes us vividly into what the child once saw as a cathedral of trees, to explore memory and beauty and poetry itself, to discover the connections threading past to present. In that green cathedral, the child wonders what friends and details and experiences she will remember when she's old. This tender, lyrical book is the answer."
–Meg Files, author of The Beasts.
"Only connect!" wrote E.M. Forster. "Live in fragments no longer." Janet McMillan Rives exemplifies this calling. "I remember connections," she declares, and it's true. Rives' recollections are painterly. She shows us "blue green agave, muted orchid skies at sunrise, subtle pink reflecting off the mountain side, cool cloudless azure skies." But the thread that securely binds together this hybrid of memoir and poetry is Rives' "open-hearted, open-minded" capacity to connect-with history, place, and most of all, people, especially her readers. "There is no one left in my circle who lived through these moments with me, no one with whom to share. So I write," writes Rives. And-lucky us!-we read. We connect. Thread widens the circle of the writer's life to welcome and include anyone fortunate enough to become interwoven with this honest, lyrical book.
–Rachel M. Srubas, author of The Desert of Compassion, The Girl Got Up and other books.
In Thread: A Memoir in Woven Poems, the author reveals connecting filaments of nature, place, family, and friendship over her lifetime. From a "Snow Day" in childhood to years living "In Paris" to the "Blaze" of a southwest desert to being "Called to Stay" in the Midwest to finally moving "Ahead" into retirement, she weaves prose narrative through her poetry. These hybrids capture the transitions of life in a lyric tapestry.
Excerpts: Janet has placed some excerpts here to provide a feel for the prose-poetry hybrid she also calls woven poems. Enjoy!
When Janet Rives returned to Arizona twenty years ago, she began the keenly observed poems in Washed by a Summer Rain: Poems from the Desert. Glimpses of history, flashes of nature's colors, and introductions to those with whom Rives has shared this vivid place offer insight. Unflinchingly, Rives conjures a grief, deals with the pandemic, travels to the border, and faces wildfire beyond her yard. Her lyrical voice shines in "Gadsden Purchase":
"You walk to the beat of your father's heart,
you breathe in the fire of your mother's spirit
you are the alma, the soul of this place."
Rives lifts us and asks us to hope with her as she is replenished with whatever grows, creeps, flies, and flourishes across the seasons.
–Marge Pellegrino, Coauthor of Neon Words: 10 Brilliant Ways to Light Up Your Writing
No crimson canopy
no leaves crunching
no open windows
no orchard outing
Just a sunrise
a bit earlier
the scent of air
not on fire.
I recommend Janet Rives’s Into This Sea of Green to all of my writing friends and students. Her book overflows with precise and descriptive language, and this artistic look at the world through which she travels is a testament to her observational skills. “Called to Stay,” “Amish Roofers,” “The Trees Tell the Story,” “No Caboose,” and “Sandhills Wildflowers” pull the reader into past scenes, important conversations, and memories that illustrate a life well lived.
–David Martin, Editor of the Fine Lines Journal
Through the Sandhills
We drive west, keeping pace
with an empty coal train
under an uncluttered sky,
the earth, too, almost barren.
Even the towns seem sparse--
Ashby, Bingham, Ellsworth, Lakeside--
not much to them.
The land between takes on
a calming shade of green
reminding me of Capulin volcano
a place where I found peace.
Forest greens appear
along streams and hedgerows
punctuating a landscape
Even my mind becomes
set free from worries, choices.
And my heart? Overflowing
taking all this in.
God, it is gorgeous.
Contact: Janet Rives