Poetry

Now that much of my literary writing has appeared in periodicals on five continents, my poems are being offered in complete editions.

Reviewing my five decades as a poet, I’m tempted to say my work breaks out into four major periods – nature poems and landscape, contemporary love poems, spirituality, and music and visual arts-inspired pieces. But a closer survey finds all of these at play throughout the years. One thing I do acknowledge is how often the writing becomes a means of exploring what’s right in front of me, including the workings of my heart and mind. Many of my pieces arise one way or another in direct personal experience of the people and places I’ve encountered in my moves across America or in the Aquarius leaps of my brain and spirit. Typically highly compressed and distilled, often with vivid imagery and a touch of surrealism, each poem tracks my own unique vision.

 You are invited to add these to your collection.

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Blue_RockThe blues and rock. A diamond. And love. Compressed and distilled.

These expressions of contemporary passion contrast to the traditional English love poem. Our era and its expectations, after all, are much different than the ones that came before us. Just consider the state of modern marriage.

The 80 pieces in Blue Rock, having appeared widely in literary journals around the globe, now stand for the first time complete in a free ebook edition available in your choice of platforms. For details on the collection or to obtain a copy, visit my page at Smashwords.

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The rose, a longstanding metaphor for love itself, also reflects the conflicts of contemporary desire. Just what makes a rose such a recurring quest in all of its award-winning varieties, anyhow? Oh, let us count the ways! Take a look at Long Stemmed Roses in a Shattered Mirror.

Roses 1

For this free Thistle/Flinch PDF edition, click here.

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He said. She said. As for the third party? Written in the white heat of two weeks, the 60 American sonnets of Braided Double-Cross search for the hidden thread in the braids of attraction, obsession, desire, and even betrayal.

Poetry

Braided Double-Cross

Enjoy this collection and more at Thistle/Flinch editions.

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The animal kingdom runs across the earth, into the sky, deep in the sea, even under the ground and through the human psyche. People, too, participate in this community of creatures. Our hearts, especially, beat with the rhythm.

The 20 poems comprising In a Heartbeat dance across this interplay, from television cartoon characters to ancient mythology and the many lessons and inspirations in between.

Here's the cover.The poems are often playful, filled with wonder and appreciation for the varied life that envelops us.

This 35-page echapbook is available free from the Barometric Pressures author series at Kind of a Hurricane Press.

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They’re animals, after all, and so are we. Encounters with elk open Bright Sweet Crude before moving on to eagles and whales. For humans, these are lessons in living in ecological balance, harmony, and awareness.

Bright Sweet Crude

Bright Sweet Crude

For this free Thistle/Flinch PDF edition, just click here.

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With the collapse of the industrial heartland and its rooted neighborhoods, the poems of Rust and the Wound ask, Just what does it mean to be made in the USA today? As the Oracle perceives, much will depend on the vision you carry and advance toward rebirth and renewal.

Rust and Wound 1

For this free Thistle/Flinch PDF edition, click here.

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Arising in a gritty investigation of love gone wrong and its ultimate conviction, Johnny Badge appeared as a 32-page chapbook from Cleveland-based Writing Knights Press. Its 27 poems hit the road in pursuit of uncovering the fuller story but found something quite different and eventually healing. (The chapbook is now out of print.)

Johnny_BadgeHere’s Isabell VanMerlin’s reaction: “I just finished reading Johnny Badge and I am – well, how many adjectives shall I use?  I love the way you express your thoughts and observations!  I feel as if we are riding parallel brain waves! I know you are aligned with Divine Mind – as I am – we all are – but our expressions are each unique!  And I am so touched by yours.”

It’s poems are jagged and urban, even as they ride out into the Rust Belt and the fields beyond.

The cover image, “Summer Street Passing,” is a painting by Richard Brown Lethem.

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Many of the nature poems collected in Green Repose are rooted in the cave-riddled countryside of southern Indiana before leaping across the continent, to the Far West, on one side, and back to New England, on the other. The title itself is drawn from a line by naturalist John Muir.

Green Repose 1 For your own free copy, click here.

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The Olympic Peninsula of the Pacific Northwest remains a unique place in the American landscape, one where Native mythology overlaps with wilderness and the wild ocean. With a longpoem as a travelogue at its heart, American Olympus explores a one-week trek into its wondrous world and back.

Two additional sections in this collection are Grilled Salmon, which plays with Chief Seattle in his continuing presence along Puget Sound, and Waterlines, tracing the spirit of rivers across the continent.

Olympus 1For your own free copy, click here.

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The four years I lived just to the east of the Cascade Range were a time of intense exploration, discovery, and growth for me. Here we were, settled between the tall mountains and rainforests beyond, on one side, and open desert, including the irrigated apple orchard we inhabited, on the other.

Under the Mountain arises from those high country trails, the streams below, and the people we met in that magical journey.

Mountain 1For your own free copy, click here.

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Back Pack marches into the wilderness back country and the lessons it instills. Its poems become an interior field guide from childhood to the present, ranging across the Midwest, the Appalachian Mountains north and south, and the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest. Lean, then, into the wind as we climb.

Back Pack 1For your own free copy, click here.

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The Susquehanna River reaches through much of Upstate New York and interior Pennsylvania before pouring into Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The poems of Susquehanna reflect her moods and influences through the cycles of a year. Jonathan Caswell’s verdict: “Poetry definitely worth the read!”

David J. Bauman, The Dad Poet, concurs: “Having grown up on the West Branch of the Susquehanna, then moving to where the two branches meet, after being away for a few years off and on, now moving to the north branch, the river just a few blocks downhill from me, I can say that this set really hits home, literally. The mood and imagery are very true to the place. I’m enjoying these. Thank you.”

Susquehanna 1For your own free copy, click here.

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Residing in inner-city neighborhoods just off downtown or splitting the apartment rent with roommates prompts the poems in this collection. Riverside runs through that experience.

Riverside 1For your own free copy, click here.

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Imbued with the rhythm of tides and waves through the seasons, Fiddler Crab in the Score reflects the ocean and its coastline, especially in my encounters in New England. Through the fishing and whaling industries to the China trade and beyond, these restless waters are an element of the Yankee character where I’ve come to live. The tide itself can be quite impressive.

Fiddler Crab 1

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As a musical form, a partita is an instrumental suite of dances, often with Baroque ornamentation. As a verbal construction, the poems of these Six Partitas dance with contemporary imagery, style, and bounce.

Partitas 1

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As musical settings of sacred Latin texts as well as the Psalms, traditional motets appear in both ancient liturgical chanting and Renaissance choral polyphony. It’s a rich tradition covering centuries. With that as inspiration, my Motets & Psalms collection of intimate poems focused on spiritual practice and religious faith speak in a contemporary vernacular language and encounter.

Motets 1

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Is it possible for a single voice – the linear progression of verbal expression – to turn into something akin to musical chords and then continue to progress the way the multiple lines of a fugue do, overlapping one another as they move along in their independent melodic lines? That’s the intent of these 50 Preludes & Fugues.

Preludes 1

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The five poems in Elders Hold reflect the essential work of wise guides within a spiritual community. The traditions reflected here include Quaker, Mennonite, and Brethren as well as Buddhist and Yogin, plus mentors in artistic endeavors.

Elders 1As I note in the afterward to this free 22-page chapbook from Thistle/Flinch editions:

Teacher, mentor, guru, therapist, coach – I’ve known many. To the extent the practice of an art, or even a life journey, is spiritual, it will be unpredictable, erratic, and above all, dangerous. Paradoxically, this is the reason certain ancient disciplines become essential, with their masters of practical wisdom and experience. Innovation, after all, builds on the past. Of all the pious guides, the elder remains unique. Not one to be worshipped or revered, but respected. Often, a father or mother figure, yet not exactly a parent in any sense of scolding or dominion. Sometimes an elder engages in “close labor,” as historic Quakers have noted in their journals – the uncomfortable showdown over some personal blot, a matter of rebuking and correction. More likely, a gentle question. Even from a distance or else briefly, they may touch something deep within those who willingly listen and watch.  

Turn to those who are authentic rather than counterfeit. And, as some elders caution, keep a close eye on Coyote.

For your own free copy, click here.

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During National Poetry Month 2013, the Origami Poems Project in Rhode Island released my Waves Rolling Too as a micro-chapbook. The four pieces embody six micropoems based in the Atlantic Seacoast of Cape Code and Maine.

Jnana_Hodson_CVR_Waves_Rolling~*~

Harbor of Grace, a chapbook of prose-poems from Fowlpox Press, is in memory of my close friend Charles Subock. They arise in the three years I lived in Baltimore.

harbor cover.jpg.opt370x493o0,0s370x493The prose-poem, I should note, is a unique genre deserving more exploration. My approach here keeps the pieces short — under 100 words apiece — while infusing them with the synaptic leaps and intense imagery of their poetic aspirations.

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“The wind blows wherever it pleases,” as John 3:8 proclaims. With Ripples in a Bejeweled Prayer Flag, the path includes a discourse on a Volkswagen Sutra, reflections on the practice of writing, and even meditations on death itself. Consider these poems as compact and glistening as the scarab emblem from ancient Egypt, itself an awareness of moving into the realms of the underworld and returning safely to the air above.

Poetry

Ripples in a Bejeweled Prayer Flag

Enjoy this collection and more at Thistle/Flinch editions.

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Chaucer had his pilgrims. In our times, the alternative just might be a Village of Gargoyles. Here are 200 of them, along with a splash in honor of Shakespeare’s own hamlet.

Village of Gargoyles

Village of Gargoyles

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The surfaces the eye lands upon or the fingers stroke expose invitations for deep listening, too. Just listen in this Foreign Exchange.

Poetry

Foreign Exchange

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COMING IN AUGUST: The children’s names were Noble, Blue, and Liberty, ringing with a uniquely American spirit. Maybe these poems of Noble Blue Liberty will somehow find them.

Poetry

Noble Blue Liberty

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COMING IN SEPTEMBER: From the cultures of ancient Egypt, Israel, and Greece to Rome and beyond, the shores of the Mediterranean Sea give birth to Western Civilization. In this exploration, the poems of Mediterraneo also delve along the rim of northern Africa as well as the courtyards of Barcelona, where the Minotaur enters.

Poetry

Mediterraneo

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COMING IN OCTOBER: Encounters in the off-hours come to life as Night Owls & Early Birds.

Poetry

Night Owls & Early Birds

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COMING IN DECEMBER: In daily encounters, especially of a passionate sort, a little something is taken from here for there. And the other way around. The daily beat doesn’t always run to a metronome, either. A little flexibility always helps, as the poems of Rubato suggest.

Poetry

Rubato

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New England is a unique place in the American experience, a land of craggy coastlines and mountains to match. Colorful calendars attempt to catch the spirit of the land and its people, but they gloss over the harsher realities, the side expressed in the stark winged skull that appears on many of the region’s Colonial-era headstones before they are romanticized in a profusion of Victorian angels. The poems in Winged Death’s Head: A New England Almanac weave together the centuries of struggle and progression from Puritan and Pilgrim to Yankee and then today’s New Englander. Each month presents a different facet.

Winged Death 1For your own free copy, click here.

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Setting forth to reclaim an urban plot for a family garden leads to more than fresh produce and flowers. It’s an act of relationship and discovery – as well as heartbreak and renewal. There Is No Statuary in Our Garden Except for the Plastic Spacemen Occasionally Surfacing is one account, ranging from asparagus to zucchini, along with a few friendly skunks.

Garden 1

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According to tradition, a husband will be handy when it comes to home repairs – an assumption that multiplies into other aspects of heading a family. In practice, as Home Maintenance observes, we may begin to wonder if it really matters whether he can drive a nail straight or frame a door. The real household care turns out to be something quite different, and not altogether in his hands.

Home Maintenance 1

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Squirrels are taken to be cute critters, but once they start dwelling in the walls of your home, all bets are off. For the homeowner, they’re clever, ruthless, destructive adversaries. More disturbing is when their opponents, in turn, start taking on a few of their qualities. Anyone else want a walnut?

For Rat-Tat Oscar, a free Thistle/Flinch PDF edition, click here.

Rat Tat 1

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My first chapbook, Returning to the Table, is now available in a 31-page PDF edition at Thistle/Flinch.

Returning 1For your own free copy, click here.

Originally published in a 24-page volume, its poems celebrate what women uniquely do and preserve — especially when it comes to the kitchen table and the family that gathers around it.

100_8867The original print edition.

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What Others Have Said

Here’s a smattering of what others have said of my poems:

“Jnana Hodson tells many tales in the course of a single poem, sometimes giving us more info than others who drone on for 300-plus pages in their long-winded and shallow novels.” – The Hold, autumn 2005

“I get so many interesting impressions. The wordplay is great. The poems are complex, heady without needing to prove it.” – Brendon Backaus, editor of getunderground.com

Jnana “attempts to solve the problems of a new nature poetry. Reticent poetry, careful not to offend its object. Like haiku growing out of each other. The white dog like a koan, enigmatic.” – Robert Novak, Windless Orchard, spring 1976

“I’m particularly drawn to three examples from Jnana Hodson’s ‘Sun Spot’ series (numbers 34, 32, and 24). Each is a little concrete poem that uses very little text, and I can’t figure any of them out. Maybe that (and their clean visual style) is the source of my attraction.” – Geof Hugh, dbqp: visualizing poetics, 2005

Jnana presents “a beautifully succinct, metaphysical vision of a child’s wonder and being.” – Julia Pearson, New Hampshire Writers’ Project review posted online, 2002

Many of my works can also be found in literary journals online.

Jnana Hodson

Jnana Hodson

Writing and revising in the early '70s.

Writing and revising in the early ’70s.

Jnana Hodson

Four decades and many works later …