Notes From a Fragile Planet
The Léman Poetry Workshop has not been able to meet physically since 2019 for the first time in twenty years. But in the COVID era the nine of us meet on line every month for critiquing sessions and personal encouragement. This “lockdown” has given us contemplative time and quiet space to marvel at our natural world and create an anthology. Notes From a Fragile Planet speaks of our growing unease for our Earth. We have each contributed five poems. Here is one of mine.
Fifty years ago we planted
two weeping silver birch
their bark now rough, crenellated
after steadfast years of living
by nature’s laws, a holy life
of trust and inborn strength.
They speak to me of stillness,
a quiet way of being,
the power of their roots
spread out to care for others
their branches reaching
skyward. They are vulnerable
like all living creatures
yet they show me how
I too may abide unafraid.
Transition was a born from a desire to give poetic form to inner chaos. Thirty two poems trace my path from the child who lost her roots to the woman who retrieved them from within herself. These poems have been framed with an introduction by Wallis Wilde Menozzi, a cosmopolitan poet, who generously held out her hand to guide me.
Transition is available from Swiss bookshops or may be purchased directly from me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
“I am blown away by how powerful this little book is. How important it is for us to put our work into a finished form! I’m inspired and awed. I will keep it close at hand and savor it bit by bit with my morning coffee.”
Mary Parlange (Writer, translator – www.gydle.ch/blog)
“Jo Ann Hansen Rasch’s poems breathe a longing to enter into an inheritance she intuits is hers, a home, a birthright – culturally, linguistically, poetically. The poems are the arresting transcript of her attempt to put that longing into words – and it is a story that is only beginning.”
Michael Hulse (Poet, editor, translator – www.contemporarywriters.com)
“Jo Ann Hansen Rasch has crafted a beautiful book of poetry. Her poems take us from New Zealand on an immigrant ship to the promised land. That promise she finds in herself. Hence the title of this first collection. Transition. The poems are alive, visual, generous. They trace the poet’s path with lyricism and uncensored images, leaving the reader with a desire for more.”
Susan Tiberghien (Writer, teacher – www.susantiberghien.com)
“Dream the madness of poetry … Jo Ann Hansen Rasch’s dazzling use of words fills both mind and heart, grounding us in what may well be the antidote to true madness: the terra firma of the creative vision.”
Mary Anna Barbey (Writer, journalist – https://www.maryanna-barbey.com).
A family memoir :
A memoir in the voice of my mother, Karen Hansen.
Blowing Feathers is for sale on Amazon, and in Switzerland in the following bookshops.
• Books Books Books, Lausanne
• Payot, Lausanne
• OffTheShelf, Geneva
• Bergli Books, Basle
“I have just finished your really rather astonishing, even shocking, book, and write to congratulate you on an amazing piece of ventriloquism. …You have managed to catch your mother’s anger and madness as well as her acuity of vision and passion for the earth.”
Nicholas Rankin (Journalist, Dead Man’s Chest, Telegram from Guernica)
“New Zealand is Karen Hansen’s birthplace and she got heavily infused in Maori culture with her father’s encouragement. Most of the family were non-violent and pacifists who were appalled by the violence in the world. This account spans seven generations and reads as an important documentary of the times past, in New Zealand and elsewhere. This book is a compelling, if not essential read.”
Trevor Reeves ( Southern Ocean Review, Issue 48, July 12th 2008)
“Congratulations! Huzza! Huzza! … for Blowing Feathers. It is of huge importance to embark and to complete the journey of “telling.” You have done it beautifully… Yes, the act of transformation does require this Herculean telling.
Hannelore Hahn (Founder & Executive Director of International Women’s Writing Guild)
“I read your book with pleasure, excitement, unable to turn the light out at night. It is a memoir of the times, of your mother, and a tribute to you to have put it all together so that it is seamlessly hers. I have no idea how many thousands of bits of paper you rearranged and stitched together, because the flow is natural as though she had written it herself.”
Anna Wirz-Justice (Professor Emeritus, Centre for Chronobiology, Basle, Switzerland)
“I was impressed and moved, and very sorry to come to the end of Blowing Feathers so soon after starting it, and I am still haunted by its bittersweet, distressing perception of the brevity of life, its pervading feeling of guilt and frustration at not being in several places at the same time. This magnificent short-cut of your errant family’s nomadic life propels the reader through the cardinal stages of existence, and illustrates so well the cruel necessity of betrayals and the impossible balance between bonds and detachment, selfishness and generosity that our deepest need for self-fulfilment forces us to strike.”
Philippe Janin, (from a treasured letter written to me by a reader)
Selected Works: Non-fiction essays, poems and short stories
The Door: Personal essay in multicultural non-fiction anthology Cupid’s Wild Arrows, Bergli Books Ltd., Switzerland.
(Also published by The Crossing Press, USA under the title Breaking Convention with Intercultural Romances and translated into German by Beck’sche Reihe, Germany.)
Flanders: At War
(Southern Ocean Review, Square One Press, Dunedin, New Zealand)
To Nietzsche: in Destruction and Creation: Facing the Ambiguities of Power published by Spring Books, USA.
Meditation: in Echoes of Silence published by Spring Books, USA.
One Night in Udaipur
The Last Time
At the Swimming Pool
Elegy for Pierre Baum’s Orchard
Personal essays published in the Geneva Writers’ Group’s biennial anthology, Offshoots
The Devil’s Crest
My Journal, August 1991, Vashon Island
My Journal, July 30th 1994, Boston
This is our Century, To Sappho etc. (Poems)
All published in Lakelines, Lausanne, Switzerland
Flanders: At War
Silent Night, Holy Night
Landmarks of Love
To Philippe With Love
Elegy for Pierre Baum’s Orchard
Short stories and poems published in Ex Tempore; an International Literary Journal. Publisher: United Nations, Geneva.
In 2009 I was the editor for the anthology Offshoots, which was celebrating its twentieth year of existence.