The finest details revive and signify as they touch the heart of memory, and the past is warmed again by long holding, deep affection, the recovered feel of things, like those coffee mugs ‘smooth as eggshell, cursive-handled Texas-ware, plain / as a potato / unremarkable. // Except to those of us / those summer mornings, holding in both hands the steam.’
Janet Winans’ careful, respectful observations are sacraments of emotional clarity. Her poems seem inevitable, as if they have always existed, and in that spirit, move us out of ourselves toward larger meaning. Winans writes in ‘Farm House, Colfax, California’: ‘Sometimes a house finds its person’—which makes me understand that sometimes, if a poem has been nurtured and shaped through wisdom and patience, it will find its reader. How fortunate to be one here.
I have followed Janet Winans’ work for many years and have come to see how much she is most a poet of observation, but I do not mean this in any standard way. The poems work not with the simple decoration of observation but with the intensity of what makes an observation arresting to begin with: In a word, she wrestles, and quite successfully, with feeling. She is at work being alive in the world, moving through it as we all are but with the gift, the earnest gift, of seeing into things.