Janet Ruth Heller is a poet, literary critic, college professor, essayist, playwright, and fiction writer. I am a past president of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature, and I am currently president of the Michigan College English Association. I have a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago. Anaphora Literary Press published my poetry book Folk Concert: Changing Times (2012), and Finishing Line Press published my poetry chapbook Traffic Stop (2011). My poetry book Exodus is forthcoming from WordTech Communications.
My poetry has appeared in many journals, including Anima, Frogpond, Midstream, The Minnesota Review, Cottonwood, Kentucky Poetry Review, Lilith, Studies in American Jewish Literature, Michigan Reading Journal, Artful Dodge, Wind, The San Fernando Poetry Journal, Organic Gardening, The Writer, Women: A Journal of Liberation, The Pegasus Review, Wisconsin People & Ideas, Earth’s Daughters, Sugar Mule, Mothers Today, Seeding the Snow, and Modern Maturity. My poems have also been published in the anthologies Our Mothers’ Daughters (1979), Poets’ Voices 1984, Light Year ʼ85, The New Poet’s Anthology (1987), Red Flower (1988), Celebrate the Midwest! (1991), Women’s Glib: A Collection of Women’s Humor (1991), Modern Poems on the Bible (1994), Women’s Spirituality, Women’s Lives (1995), Pandemonium or Life with Kids (1995), Moon Days (1999), I Killed June Cleaver (1999), Women’s Encounters with the Mental Health Establishment: Escaping the Yellow Wallpaper (2002), and Recipes for Readers from Michigan’s Authors and Illustrators (2009). My poetry book manuscript Folk Concert was a Finalist for the Richard Snyder Memorial Poetry Prize given by Ashland Poetry Press, judged by Robert Phillips, in 2005.
My poem, “Moving In,” won the Friends of Poetry annual contest for 1989 and was displayed in buses in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Also, in 1989, I presented a poetry reading at Remembering Rachel: The Second National Conference on the Spiritual Woman at Mercy College in Detroit. My reading was published in a special issue of Women and Language in 1993. I have also given poetry readings at the Midwest Modern Language Association Convention in Chicago (1994), the First International Conference on Judaism, Feminism and Psychology in Seattle (1992), the Midwest Poetry Festival at Michigan State University (1991-2010), and many other venues.
I am a founding mother and former editor of Primavera, a literary magazine. Primavera has won awards from Chicago Women in Publishing and the Illinois Arts Council and grants from the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines and the National Endowment for the Arts. Primavera was among the first journals to publish work by writers like Louise Erdrich. <
My scholarly articles have appeared in many journals, including College English, Women's Studies, Poetics, Language and Style, The Wildean, Twentieth Century Literature, The Charles Lamb Bulletin, Concerning Poetry, Literary Magazine Review, Shakespeare Bulletin, MidAmerica, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, Style, The Eighteenth Century, Literature and Psychology, Edith Wharton Review, Nineteenth-Century Prose, The Library Quarterly, Theatre Journal, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, and the anthologies American Literary Magazines: The Twentieth Century (Greenwood Press, 1992) and Between Anthropology and Literature: Interdisciplinary Discourse (Routledge, 2002).
My book of literary criticism, Coleridge, Lamb, Hazlitt, and the Reader of Drama, was published in 1990 by the University of Missouri Press. My essay “A Visit to Isle Royale” was aired in May, 1999, over Michigan Public Radio. My creative nonfiction “Returning to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin” appeared in Midwestern Miscellany in 2008. It is part of a memoir that I am working on.
I have published book reviews in Theatre Journal, Library Journal, and The Library Quarterly. My theater reviews have appeared in the Kalamazoo Gazette and Shakespeare Bulletin. My play The Cell Phone won fourth place in a national contest and was performed twice at the Fenton Village Players One-Act Play Festival on June 24-25, 2011 in Fenton, Michigan.
In my award-winning fiction picture book for children, How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Sylvan Dell, hardback 2006, paperback 2007), the sun bullies the moon, and her feelings are so badly hurt that she shrinks and leaves the sky. The moon turns to a comet and her friends on earth, who comfort her, and she regains her full shape and self-esteem;also, she returns to her orbit. Influenced by Native American legends and rituals, How the Moon Regained Her Shape emphasizes the importance of self-confidence and friendship, and it gives children a model for dealing with bullies. How the Moon Regained Her Shape won a Book Sense Pick for 2006, a Children’s Choices selection for 2007, a Benjamin Franklin Award for 2007, and a Gold Medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for 2007. How the Moon Regained Her Shape was also one of five finalists for the Patricia Gallagher Picture Book Award of 2009, an award given by the Oregon Reading Association.
My hobbies are hiking, singing, and bird watching.
My writing has been influenced by many other authors, including British writers Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Jane Austen, William Wordsworth, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barret Browning, George Eliot, W. B. Yeats, American writers Edna St. Vincent Millay, T. S. Eliot, Maxine Kumin, Adrienne Rich, Judith Minty, Gwendolyn Brooks, Israeli writers Chaim Nachman Bialik, Yehudah Amichai, Rachel Bluwstein, Chaim Guri, S. Y. Agnon, and Hispanic writers Sor Juana, Federico Garcia Lorca, Ruben Dario, Antonio Machado, Jorge Guillen, Pedro Salinas, and Damaso Alonso.
I'm working on a memoir. I'm also trying to find a publisher for a book of poems about the people and events in the Bible, Exodus. I also have three one-act plays, The Cell Phone, Pledging, and Plagiarism, that I would like to have produced. The Cell Phone was produced in 2011 in Michigan, but I would like to have it staged again. I also have nine book manuscripts for children.
Sylvan Dell Publishing
University of Missouri Press
Finishing Line Press
Anaphora Literary Press
Hiking, birdwatching, singing, watching good athletes in all sports
National Trust for Historic Preservation, Nature Conservancy, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Autism Speaks,
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