Poetry Book Release Reading
For Joanne M. Clarkson and Risa Denenberg

Saturday, January 14
2:00 PM Pacific Time
5:00 PM Eastern Time

Live on Zoom

hosted by
Lana Hechtman Ayers

Joanne M. Clarkson's Hospice House was just published by MoonPath Press.

"Joanne M. Clarkson's Hospice House is as much a collection about love, deep compassion, and generosity as it is about death and dying, from the perspective of a hospice nurse. These are poems of grit, grace, wisdom, and healing. Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one will experience a kinship with Clarkson's powerful, poignant, and uplifting work." 
   —Lana Hechtman Ayers, author of When All Else Fails

Sweet Healing

Everyone has some memory
of honey. I cut a wound-shaped piece
of infused felt and place it gently
on the burn left to fester
for days. The oldest cure
made new. I watch

her facial muscles relax
as the arm agony eases
under the holy fear of bees,

her mind wandering through ninety years
of hollyhock and clover. Even science
isn’t sure why it works: nutrient,
antiseptic or simply a second,
golden skin? She lives

alone, with a woman who comes in
once a week to clean, and a neighbor
who found her, forearm inflamed
by teapot steam. And me,

the visiting nurse who wraps gauze
around the terrible, deep
sweetness and promises 
to return day after tomorrow 
with fireweed, honeysuckle, 
an orchard in June..

Joanne M. Clarkson fell in love with poetry as a child and it has been a life-long relationship. Her favorite poem, at 10, was “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. She won her first poetry contest in fifth grade with rhyming verse about Mt. Rainier. Since then, she has had a thousand favorite poems and has published many of her own. Her fifth collection, The Fates, won Bright Hill Press’ annual contest and was published in 2017. She has received a Grant for Artist Progress (GAP) from Artist Trust and was awarded an NEH Poetry in Person Grant to teach poetry in rural libraries.

Clarkson has Master’s Degrees in English and Library and Information Science. She taught and then worked as a professional librarian for many years. After caring for her mother through a long illness she re-careered as a Registered Nurse, specializing in Home Health and Hospice. Her memoir, There’s Always a Miracle: True Stories of Life Before and After Death (Black Triangle Press, 2022), includes chapters from her personal life and her hospice work.

Besides poetry, her life-long avocation has been reading palms and Tarot. She was taught by her grandmother, psychic Esther Monson. She continues to give personal readings and classes and to add mystical moments to events and celebrations

Clarkson lives with her husband James in Port Townsend, WA. She loves spending time with family, including 5 children and 4 grandchildren. She gardens and she and her husband avidly dance Argentine Tango.

Visit Joanne's Author Page at MoonPathPress.com

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Risa Denenberg's Rain/Dweller was just published by MoonPath Press.

“I really enjoyed reading these poems and, because I felt driven forward by them, read them all in one sitting. Part of the loveliness of it for me was the expectation of arriving at yet another arresting line—of being brought to a halt by something piercingly true expressed finely. I was also captivated by Risa Denenberg’s contemplation of that place where our most fundamental concerns as humans—love, death, aging, sadness, and the mystery of it all—meet the natural world. I felt myself in the presence of a great honesty about things that matter, and in particular responded to the idea that, despite our existential plight—maybe even because of it—life is a thing of great beauty.”
   —David Guterson, author of Snow Falling on Cedars

Raindweller Learns the Names of Trees

I’ve learned to tell the fir from the yew, the silver
from the red cedar. At sunrise, there is a thin glint of light
northeastward where I await Mount Baker’s frozen specter

careening over Discovery Bay. The lamps of Port
Townsend blink; strands of fog hang over fields.
Peckish deer nibble dandelions. I spare my lawn

for their graze. The squirrels, miniature and rust-bellied,
easily reach the hanging bird seed. I don’t try to learn
bird calls, they come to feed and that’s enough.
There are rumors of big cats. I’ve seen two elk—
one stared through me as if she knew my secrets, the other, 
roadkill. You once told me my poems are too grim

and I should try my hand at something more pastoral. 
I’ve seen powdered snow on cedars, and I’ve grown 
passably fond of rain. Every day, the clouds amaze.

Risa Denenberg was born in Washington DC in 1950, and has lived in Miami & Tallahassee Florida, New York City, Kunkletown & Philadelphia Pennsylvania, and has made her home in the Pacific Northwest since 2008. She is a family nurse practitioner who has worked for the past five decades in clinical nursing and education in the areas of abortion care, HIV/AIDS, hospice and palliative care, chronic pain management, and family health. She currently volunteers with the Sequim Free Clinic and with End-of-Life Washington, the advocacy group that supports Washington state’s Death with Dignity Law.

Denenberg is a co-founder of Headmistress Press, publisher of lesbian/bi/trans poetry; curates The Poetry Café, an online meeting place where poetry chapbooks are celebrated and reviewed; and is the Reviews Editor at River Mouth Review . She has published eight collections of poetry, including the full-length collections Mean Distance from the Sun (Kelsay Press, 2014) and slight faith (MoonPath Press, 2018), and the chapbook, POSTHUMAN, finalist for the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Contest (2020).

She lives with her cats, Bo and Tyg, in a place of stunning beauty on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state. From her writing desk, she looks out at Discovery Bay and, on a clear day, can see Mount Baker in the distance. She enjoys yoga, cooking, drawing, and reading. She is currently working on a memoir-in-progress: No Way to Say Goodbye: My Life as a Noncustodial Mom .

About her writing, she says: “There is no doubt that my years as a nurse, witnessing illness, suffering, and death, have been the bedrock of my love of poetry. While my own poems are often suffused with sadness and alienation, I am grateful that writing carves out a place for these emotions.”

Visit Risa's Author Page at MoonPathPress.com

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MoonPath Press is dedicated to publishing the finest poets in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

Check out all of our authors at our website MoonPathPress.com