Indigenous author Salida Jane McPhetres Johnson to read from a new book – by Brooke Gilmore


Jane McPhetres Johnson, a writer from Salida, to read an excerpt from her new book Maven reaches Mars at 5:30 p.m. on August 27 at the regional library of Salida. Johnson was born at Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Hospital, while her father taught at Salida High School. She now lives in Massachusetts.

Jane graduated from UNC in Greeley, then earned a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Poetry from Goddard College in Vermont, while raising two sons in Sheridan, Wyoming. His poems have been published in electronic magazines and journals online and in print. Maven is his first collection, the work of a lifetime during the pandemic.

Maven Reaches Mars: House Poems and Space Probes in Four Papers is a collection of poems presented as an imaginary journey in four stages through time and space. It begins with memories and images of an idyllic childhood in Colorado, his “launching pad”. The journey ends in a very different place, a world so changed it can look like Mars.

The aging process can be disorienting for anyone, but this writer acquires a greater sensitivity. His poems come to the conclusion that his own lifespan and that of humanity itself seem to follow the same trajectory.

A grim prospect indeed, but Maven manages to present harsh reality with ironic humor and warmth in poems that use traditional forms and poetic elements of rhyme and rhythm alongside free verse. A nugget is for her mother, who also taught at Salida High School:


Get up early, she got the job done

she always had.

I dreamed of these sounds

but what woke me up

was love, slow

so calm

closing my door.

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