Janet McMillan Rives

Janet McMillan Rives was born in Hartford, Connecticut and grew up in Storrs until moving to Tucson, Arizona midway through high school. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona (B.A.) and Duke University (M.A., Ph. D.) She taught college economics for thirty-five years and retired as Professor Emerita of Economics from the University of Northern Iowa. She resides in Oro Valley, Arizona.

Her love of poetry began during her youth in New England when she discovered the poetry of Robert Frost. She has been reading poetry her entire life and writing poetry since the 1980s. She is active in small poetry writing groups in Tucson. Her poems have appeared in such publications as Lyrical Iowa, Ekphrastic Review, Sandcutters, The Avocet, The Blue Guitar, Creosote, Crosswinds, Fine Lines,The Raw Art Review, and Beyond Words and in anthologies such as Voices from the Plains, The Very Edge, and Night Forest. Her first chapbook of poetry, Into This Sea of Green: Poems from the Prairie, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2020. In 2023 Kelsay Books released her collection, Washed by a Summer Rain: Poems from the Desert.


Washed by a Summer Rain: Poems from the Desert: 48 pages,
Amazon or Kelsay Publications

Into this Sea of Green: Poems from the Prairie: 26 pages
Amazon or Finishing Line Publications

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


(from Washed by a Summer Rain)
Everyday dull
then suddenly
from within the flat tan
emerge such gems:
the turquoise underside
of a desert lizard,
flaming jasper
on barrel cacti,
yellow palo verde
gone to topaz.
Our desert's

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

Triple Moon Shot

(from Into This Sea of Green)
We head out for an evening drive
along Sowbelly Road,
twisting, turning, tracing W
and then J as we follow the creek
winding north through pine hills.
Above, a golden escarpment
is lit by the waning sun.

What seems to be a dead gopher
becomes, instead, a snapping turtle,
very much alive, laying eggs
in the burrow she has dug
smack dab in the middle of our track.

Down the road, we stop the car
to see the sun's remaining rays
cast a purple glow on rugged rocks.
Then facing east, surprise,
we see an ivory disc rise.
Three shutterbugs, enraptured
                click, click, click.
The full moon, captured.

Contact: Janet Rives