Before she became the acclaimed author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, Wild Card Quilt and Pinhook, Janisse Ray was a poet, a calling she has never abandonedd. Nor has it abandoned her. How heartening, therefore, to see her first love given its full-throated voice in Waking in the Forest! These poems are indeed about waking up, looking around at the world, and discovering how to live within it. Often they seek relationship with that world, speaking to the birds, for example, and begging of them, "Oh kinglet, Oh oriole/tell us what you know.” Janisse Ray know show to listen to what our world has to tell us, and she knows how to transform that listening into language that kindles our imagination, which after all desires nothing less than to be utterly alive in our landscape. “No matter how rich/we become, or old,/ or unable, won’t /some part of us desire to weave/a basket in which to forage/the last of the grapes? “ the poet asks. Ray’s poems weave for us such a basket. They show us how to gather and cherish the things of this world.
Born in Southeast Georgia, Janisse has given many presentations in the WNC mountains and is a frequent lecturer at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa.
To order this book, go to Wind Publications, where Charlie Hughes, poet and editor, runs one of our best regional small presses. Or for a signed copy, order directly from Janisse Ray, 895 Catherine T. Sanders Rd., Reidsville, GA 30453. $16 for paperback, $27 for hardback (includes shipping.)
(Janisse Ray talking with my brother, Charles Stripling, at the Joseph F. Jones Ecological Center in Baker County, Georgia)