About the Author
|In the room of the spirit, Janet Krauss fills all the seats.
Paul Dry, Paul Dry Books, Inc.
A quiet energy burns in these highly crafted poems, which are generous
in their metaphors and impressive in their range, moving nimbly from
elms humming with sunlight to straphangers on a bus, a maimed war
veteran, a Jewish cemetery in Prague—and always, everywhere, a
reverence for what Janet Krauss calls the “sanctity of place.” As she
browses through memories of her parents and children, or contemplates
the paintings of Bruegel and Hopper, she plunges us into a world of
birds, beaches, tides, seeds and gardens, a world in which “rainfall
encloses intimacy / under an umbrella,” and the moon lies on the
ground “like a silent, gasping fish.” A gripping, captivating
collection, with haunting moods, and moments that have a way of
Nicholas Rinaldi, author of Between Two Rivers
In “A Poem About a Broken Bucket,” Janet Krauss writes that “The poem
can be / the simple act of seeing / the wondrous thing.” This sense
of wonder is her signature. Even though not all of her poems are
optimistic, she has a sense of awe at life. It is not surprising that
she writes about paintings, for there is a painterly quality to her
work, which she creates both through mood and language. When she asks
us, along with her granddaughter, to “listen / to the doves at dusk /
in the whiteness of the sky / part the air / as they make troughs for
dreams / with their murmurs,” we can’t help accepting the invitation.
Kim Bridgford, author of Undone
Janet Krauss is a far more complex and compelling poet than one might
first surmise. The way she weaves art, history, family, nature and
politics into an accessible mosaic leaves one spellbound and grateful.
Tony Sanders, author of Partial Eclipse
It’s not a matter of reconciliation
but holding onto the kind of happenings
that feel like bells heard through
mountain mist, happenings
that ground you, that sound you out,
and stay hours from rushing by
without a meaning.
from “On Time”
The trick is to make a shakkei garden
out of your life.
Plant trees for changing views.
Set water basins near gravel
or flowering shrubs.
Arrange rocks around leaning grass.
Then borrow a full moon
that guarantees more vision
than a line of lanterns.
from “A Shakkei Garden”
Or maybe we would walk in silence,
not the kind that presents
an opportunity lost to emote
before wide-eyed school children
but the quiet that comes
after my granddaughters leave,
a sated quiet that collects itself
over the empty furniture.
from “Shifting Zones”
The dissident exiled in Gorky walks
and the weeds multiply
eat the air he breathes.
He grows thin,
shields his eyes
as he lifts his face to the sun.
The carp rises in his head.
from “Sakharov in Gorky”
I find Janet Krauss’s new book, Borrowed Scenery, to be a stunning
collection. Janet’s poetry is, like the best poetry, that flickering
but steadfast light in the darkness. She doesn’t deny the
darkness—that is, the pain and suffering of life, the loss that is an
inevitable part of life; rather, her poetry holds up the frail but
necessary illumination to help guide us in the night. In the
transience that is life, her poetry speaks about the only permanence
that is open to us—that of the immutability of art. Of poetry, of art,
and of memory that is immortalized by art.
In her poems we have vivid scenes of nature, but as in the greatest
nature poets, and as Wordsworth himself reminds us, it is nature
“recollected in tranquility.” Her poems focus on those rarefied and,
as she calls them, “sacred” moments—often decades earlier—when we are
able to recapture, through nature, our own childhoods, the childhoods
of our children and grandchildren, the sacred moments of our parents,
of watching boxing and baseball with a father, those moments when we
were distant echoes of who we are now.
Janet writes of loss, especially that which comes with age, but it is
only through that loss that we are able to recapture the essence of
who and what we were and are. In “Girl Interrupted at her Music,” she
tells us, “We elders pass on as if on a train, after we have spied a
hint of youth.” Or in “nothing to save us at last save loss itself,”
she writes of trees: “They hold fast, and are true, to the knowledge
of loss in their reflection.”
As with the best poetry, hers is on intimate terms with loss. Yet she
doesn’t give into it, doesn’t fear it or shun it; in fact, she
acknowledges it, accepts and invites it, and asks for no quarter from
it. And she offers us the only thing poetry can; the fragile
illumination, the joys despite that loss, the knowledge that it is
only in the struggle to live life in the face of loss that we are
human, and made more deeply human for it. As she writes in
“Disappointment,” “In its time it will wean itself away.” But I can
promise you this one thing: in her poetry you will not be
Fairfield University, CT
About the Author
Krauss grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, graduated from Girls’ Latin
School, received her BA from Brandeis University and her MA from
Fairfield University. She is a widely published poet, and has been
twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
Her work reflects the need through love of language to comprehend
situations, scenes and feelings that affect her. Nature and art help
her express her ideas and family experiences. Through her poems she
hopes to gain a kinship with her readers and belong to Hawthorne’s
“magnetic chain of humanity”.
She teaches literature and writing at St. Basil College and Fairfield
University and lives in Bridgeport, Connecticut with her husband,