Highlighted by The Poetry Center at Smith College
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Meet Our December Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight: 
Maya Janson 

Highlighted by The Poetry Center at Smith College

Maya Janson’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker,  Best American Poetry, The Massachusetts Review, Orion, upstreet and elsewhere. Her first book Murmur & Crush was published by Hedgerow Books in 2012. She has been a fellow at The MacDowell Colony and a recipient of an artist grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She lives in Florence, MA and is a lecturer in poetry at Smith College.
 
Poetic Profession  
The poem begins with attention, something calling me to attention, to take notice. At the same time, intention in the broadest sense comes into play. Intention, not because I know what I want or intend to do, but rather, because I don’t know. It’s an aspiration to show up, stub of a pencil in hand, maybe too, binoculars, stethoscope, and geiger counter. The practice is a cross between courtship and good-hearted stalking, requiring willingness to woo and follow, get lost in thickets, to get a bit scratched-up if necessary. Because I want to know where the elusive and feral animal of the poem lives; I want to catch a glimpse of its ringed-tail or the glass bead of its eye. Because I trust that in doing so I’ll discover something true and essential, or something false and whimsical which compels me to translate what’s found there into music and language. 
Partial Report, Preliminary List 
               
In the morning some kind of rare, colorful
bird with a dead bee in its beak.
Later, the understated back-side of a dahlia.
Repeatedly, the business end of a broom.
In the short clip it’s hard to tell if the girl on the bike
is pedaling toward or away. Could be Amsterdam
where I’ve never been. The wind, the wind,
its profligacy. The signposts of storm,
the season of nest reveal. Foremost,
my neighbor’s little poplar with nuthatch sack.
Not pencil on parchment, but doodles done
on bar napkin while waiting for a beloved
to show up wearing sneakers, her best blue high-tops.
The telling of it and the re-telling of it –  all
at a slant. My innermost is sent to you
by way of telepathy. Without irony
but sometimes halting, in fits and starts
as if driving on a back road in heavy fog.
In a fog that could easily be misunderstood
as being of bad intent. Dashboard poorly lit,
night coming on like a blinding headache
minus aura. Without warning, nothing prodromal.
In mythology the pomegranate is said to signify
the underworld. In real life,
a simple granite headstone will do.
 
Previously published in upstreet


 
previously published in Poetry International

The Poetry Center at Smith College hosts a lively reading series during the academic year, free and open to the public, featuring internationally known poetry stars as well as exceptional emerging poets. We are committed to a diversity of voices, in terms of style, gender, age, race, sexual orientation, and language (presenting at least one foreign-language poet’s work each year). In addition to the free reading series, we bring the world of poetry to the surrounding community via our annual poetry contest for high-school girls, outreach to social service units, local schools, and arts organizations in the Pioneer Valley. Our historic poetry archive—including videos of readings, audio interviews with poets, fine letterpress broadsides, and a website rich with poems, poet biographies, photographs—is available to current and future readers, scholars, and alumnae the world over.

Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight is a monthly installment from Mass Poetry. Each month we shine the spotlight on a poet affiliated with, and nominated by, one of our poetry partners.
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