Jeanine Stevens

Jeanine Stevens is the author of Limberlost and Inheritor (Future Cycle Press). Her first poetry collection, Sailing on Milkweed, was published by Cherry Grove Collections. She is winner of the MacGuffin Poet Hunt, the William Stafford Award, The Stockton Arts Commission Award, The Ekphrasis Prize, and WOMR Cape Cod Community Radio National Poetry Award. Brief Immensity, won the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Award. Gertrude Sitting: Portraits of Women, won The Heartland Review 2020 Chapbook Prize. She participated in Literary Lectures—Celtic Symbolism, sponsored by Poets and Writers. Work has appeared in North Dakota Review, Evansville Review, The Kerf, Stoneboat, Rosebud, and Chiron Review. Jeanine studied poetry at U.C. Davis, earned her M.A. at CSU Sacramento, and has a doctorate in Education. She is also a collage artist and has exhibited her work in various art galleries. Jeanine is Professor Emerita at American River College. Raised in Indiana, she now divides her time between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

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In No Lunch Among the Day Stars, Jeanine Stevens is working at the height of her poetic gifts. Her background in anthropology, her flair for history and love of travel, and her sense of what is puzzling about the lived-in world, all her experiences generate remarkable poems. Many lines reverberate in the memory, transcendently or simply worded. We accompany the poet through her wanderings or trace her presence through emanations. Certain poems haunt the reader; "Coffin Ship" evokes the escape from Ireland’s Potato Famine, starvation, plague and contagion shroud the verse: "And, hearts remembering the great hunger…still watch rickety ships…leave the Poet of Derry…sealed in Atlantic’s whitest foam." These virtuoso poems, somber and upbeat, transmit a different contagion, the energy in composing. Stevens’ haul of insights and scents, flavors and travels, is a gift to relish.

Tom Goff, author of Twelve-Tone Row: Music in Words.

 

In No Lunch Among the Day Stars, we see the synergy of the poet’s capacious intellect – engaged with art, science, history, literature, the climate crisis, and the cosmos – with her close observation of the natural world, culture, and human nature. The poems pay homage to masters of poetry and art (Ashbery, Frost, Picasso, Warhol, Van Gogh), to the hand irons on a grandmother’s woodstove, to the fragile existence of an 18th century Leni-Lenape woman, and, always, to endangered nature. Stevens’ eloquently expressed melancholy and yearning are always infused with reminders of renewal and resilience, for example, the survival of the tough-rooted violet in the face of wildfire’s destruction. These poems articulate, lovingly and precisely, the beauty that is present even as we witness endings: "the tint of a lover’s thigh, deep inside, where flesh begins to emit the fragrance of wild mushrooms," or, in this address to the Monterey Cypress, "In old age, your body... / bends inland, your trunk swivels— / magnificent bonsai... / In the scent of drying kelp, / time to watch new lambs..." Stevens’ new collection nourishes and satisfies.

Laura Rosenthal