Her Joy Becomes
by Andrea Potos
57 poems ~ 141 pages
Price: $18.00
Publisher: Fernwood Press
ISBN: 9781594980244
To order: www.fernwoodpress.com


Andrea Potos's poems are permeated by an expansive sense of kinship. Blood family are precious, but equally intimate are luminary writers with whom she finds soul connections. Although most of these figures are physically absent, all are a vital presence in Potos's "rooms of thought." She recommends (and practices) not getting snagged in appearances but "look[ing] slant" to find what is enduring. This is what she calls "graz[ing] with your consciousness" to gather joy. This is no simplistic pursuit. Rather, she's in agreement with C.S. Lewis's insight that "joy is the serious business of heaven."

Potos understands that it takes committed work to choose and own joy. These poems involve aging parents, cancer, dread, death, grief, funerals-the hard times that generate hard questions. But they also celebrate the sustaining "underpinnings of dailiness"-laundry, coffee, washing dishes, brushing hair, bird song, vegetables, floral dresses. As those who are now absent become valued mental companions, she discovers "a peace whisper[ing] to her … a different happiness unfolding."


This collection shapes itself around the author’s conviction that nothing of beauty is ever wasted, a bold claim to make–and a needed one–in “single-use/throw-away” times like ours. These poems are grounded in the long remembering of loss and shaped by the tender work of grief. They are brimming with epiphanies-in-the-ordinary, which after all are the only ones that startle us into seeing our own lives anew. Here, you’ll find poems of generous remembering, offering subterranean glimpses into those tender shoots of loss that go deep as they spread down through the years and ground us in gratitude. They’ll remind you, in their freshness, of what poetry is for, inviting you to indwell your own life with greater attentiveness and learn to see what is familiar with an unexpected generosity of feeling. In reading them you’ll find yourself beckoned to grow yourself deeper, / to know yourself further in the light. What more could one hope for in poems–and in life?
–Mark S. Burrows, author of The Chance of Home

Andrea Potos is smitten by literature, smitten by life itself. Her fine lyric poetry converses with great voices from the past, including Dickinson, Alcott, Keats, the Brontes, Dorothy Wordsworth. Her Joy Becomes is a book for those of us who find our prayers in poems, who find greatest joy in daily life with loved ones, books, the natural world, observing miracles occurring before our eyes. From her poem “Poets”: while inspiration garbed itself / in the bodies of birds / and invisible molecules of ordinary air. Her Joy Becomes is a book to carry in purse or backpack for solace on the go.
–Donna Hilbert, author of Threnody, and Gravity: New & Selected Poems

Open Her Joy Becomes and “your heart / will tap Yes.” These vivid, beautifully observed pieces immerse us in a time “hen the thin air / between worlds was still / noticeable and ordinary.” Don’t miss this collection. Andrea Potos poems call us to fully inhabit our lives as the best poetry always does.
–Laura Grace Weldon, author of Portals; 2019 Ohio Poet of the Year.

These poems are openings to wonder, traversing the seasons of the year, and of the heart, Andrea Potos invites us into the intimacy of the color and texture of life. From journeying with her mother through illness to observations of the writer’s call, this collection feels filled with the possible. As the reader, I feel enlarged.
Christine Valters Paintner, author of Dreaming of Stones and The Wisdom of Wild Grace


Andrea Potos has received five Outstanding Achievement Awards in poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association, the James Hearst Poetry Prize from the North American Review, and the William Stafford Prize in Poetry. Her Joy Becomes is Andrea’s ninth published collection of poems. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.


Trying to Teach My Mother to Crochet

by Andrea Potos

I wanted something for her hands–
the dusky blue crochet hook I bought for her
and blue acrylic yarn the color
of the Greek sea near the long ago
city of her birth.

She didn’t ask for this lesson.
In her steady kindness, she went along
with me, trying to match her fingers
to the flow of looping yarn.
I worried she wouldn’t continue
when her mind told her
she needed another cigarette,

though the cancer had already set in both lungs
and her treatment begun. I never considered
how she might want to live her last months or years
doing what gave her balm, the familiar comfort
to inhale, taste and release a swirling elegance
of smoke. All I knew was my own need
to halt what had already begun, to keep her
present and seamlessly shawled around us.


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