Family Matters–Poems for and about Grandparents and Grandchildren
by Judie Rae
42 Poems ~ 72 pages
Price: $20.00
Publisher: Kelsay Books
ISBN: 978-1-63980-353-8
To Order: Kelsay Books or Amazon


If you love family, if you harbor sweet memories of raiding Grandpa’s blackberry patch … this book is your ticket to the dance. Family Matters–Poems for and about Grandparents and Grandchildren, by Judie Rae, sings songs that will rapture your heart in memories long forgotten and along the way, draw families to new heights of love for one another.


What a gift to all grandchildren in this heartfelt collection of poems by Judie Rae. The book chronicles the chain of connection between Judie’s memories of her own solidly loving grandmother and her experiences as a grandmother on the other side of the equation. My favorite poem is the rueful “Lies We Tell Children: where “I’ll always be here for you” from Grandma is received with a grain of salt by a world-weary five-year-old. I love the challenge of the powerful ending: What fractured beauty, this / child of my child, this / sprite, who hops, / skips a half-skip, / slides her hand / in my hand / and dares me / to cross over.
–Gail Entrekin, Editor of Canary Online Literary Magazine, and author of Rearrangement of the Invisible.

Through the poems in this collection, Judie Rae conveys the unique magic that can exist between grandmother and grandchild, reminding us that the lessons of love are learned by example, early in life. Her poems include memories of the intimate landscapes of her Canadian childhood at her grandmother’s cottage near the Ottawa River. Looking back, Judie wonders whether her grandmother knew how much she loved her, and having read the tender poems, the reader murmurs, “yes, she knew …” Years later, as a grandmother herself, several of Judie’s poems report her grandchildren’s language in hilarious detail: Go potty ’morrow night … Another weaves past and present: I pat her back / to soothe / this child of my child, / as my grandmother / patted me, / her wrinkled hands, so mild, / now mine / breaching time …
Ellen Dooling Reynard, author of No Batteries Required and Double Stream

The image that continues to return to me after reading this beautiful and moving book of poems is that of Judie Rae’s grandmother’s hands, which could “lift a naked bird–all beak and veins–back to fragile nest.” Poems about her grandmother rightfully begin Family Matters, as the woman’s love for the little girl who has been entrusted to her care is a saving grace, a gift. Each of these well-crafted poems, those about Rae’s children and her grandchildren as well, hold love lessons couched not in rules but revealed through compelling images and sensory details. Some of the poems had me laughing aloud, while others “warmed (my) eyes with tears.’’ to recall another of the author’s simple and lovely images.
–Judy Bebelaar, author of And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown, and Walking Across the Pacific


Judie Rae is the author of the novel The Haunting of Walter Rabinowitz. Her poems have appeared in many literary journals and anthologies, among them Nimrod, Wisconsin Review, and Mudfish. She is the author of two chapbooks, The Weight of Roses and Howling Down the Moon. She is the co-editor of Old Age & Young Hearts, a chapbook written by women over sixty. Her essays have appeared in “Tahoe Quarterly,” “The Sacramento Bee, “ as well as online at San Francisco’s NPR station, KQED. Judie taught college English classes for twenty-seven years at various colleges throughout California. A Canadian, she now lives in Nevada City, CA., a landscape reminiscent of her grandmother’s home on the Ottawa River, where Judie spent her childhood summers.


The Woodshed

by Judie Rae

The inside of Grandma’s woodshed
smelled of the musty scent of wood,
a leaky roof the cause of the fragrance
I loved.

I left the shed door open so the sun
would shine in, so I could read
in the doorway and watch
the black squirrels at their mischief.

The woodshed is long gone, my
dear grandmother the same, yet
the scent comes upon me at times,
in a friend’s old storage building,

in our damp woodpile, carrying
me back years to that spot
I shared with Grandma’s hoe and rake,
tools to keep the vegetables flourishing,

as I flourished
in that decaying ruin,
loving every minute in my
private playhouse by the river.


Return to:

[New] [Archives] [Join] [Contact Us] [Poetry in Motion] [Store] [Staff] [Guidelines]