In December of 2010, Finishing Line Press notified me that I was a semi-finalist in its 2010 Open Chapbook Competition, and FLP accepted my poetry chapbook, Traffic Stop. It will be out July 8, 2011. I am very excited about this! I have published dozens of poems separately or in small groups in magazines, journals, and anthologies, but some poems make much more sense in context with my other works than separately. I have been trying to publish a book of poetry for a long time.
Traffic Stop contains some of my best poems written from the 1970s to 2009. My poetry chapbook has various central themes: being an assertive nontraditional woman, having close relationships, teaching college English and women's studies, loving nature, traveling, being involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement, mourning my father's death, being an artist/entertainer/writer, and experiencing folk music at different stages of my life. The cover artwork is by Michigan artist Lori McElrath-Eslick.
My mother read many poems to me when I was a little girl. I loved Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “The Land of Counterpane” because I had many terrible colds. In first grade, my teacher Mrs. Mesias liked a poem that I wrote about flying a kite with my father so much that she dittoed it for the other students. I guess that was my first publication. When I was a teenager, I read an autobiography about Edna St. Vincent Millay, which gave me hope that I might become a published American writer too.
I began writing a lot of poems in the 1970s when I was working on my M.A. in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I continued writing when I transferred to the University of Chicago for my Ph.D. I was a founding mother and editor of two literary magazines, Canticum Novum and Primavera. Meeting other writers and artists through these journals gave me inspiration and helpful feedback on my poems and prose.
Here are some comments about my book from poets Patricia Clark, who teaches creative writing at Grand Valley State University, and Judith Minty, who used to teach creative writing at Humboldt State University.
Enjoy these poems that tell rich tales of rebellion, budding sexuality, and academic life--all told with humor, wit, and grace.
--Patricia Clark, author of She Walks into the Sea, My Father on a Bicycle, and North of Wondering
Janet Heller’s Traffic Stop is not only an interesting but an abiding collection. Her poems are set in the rich history of what began as the Women’s Movement, which helped to give many women the positions and earnings they deserved. These pieces speak of what the author and other women stand for, how they have patiently worked toward equality; and it reminds us about what is often taken for granted today.
What I love most about these poems is their womanly strength. Heller’s words ring true and are not compromised. I have smiled, and even laughed, at times--at how straightforward these poems speak. At the same time, I feel the heart-ache of the struggle the poet depicts for women, how hard it has been to achieve some of the fairness that we have in this world today. Heller does an excellent job of combining these two facets in this collection.
--Judith Minty, author of Walking with the Bear, Dancing the Fault, Yellow Dog Journal, Lake Songs and Other Fears, In the Presence of Mothers, Counting the Losses, The Mad Painter Poems
If you are interested in my chapbook Traffic Stop, you can contact Finishing Line Press via telephone at 859-514-8966, by email at FinishingBooks@aol.com , or at the website
The snail-mail address is P. O. BOX 1626, Georgetown, Kentucky 40324
Causes Janet Heller Supports
National Trust for Historic Preservation, Nature Conservancy, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Autism Speaks,